The Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos begin another NFL season today, and there are plenty of storylines to follow this year. Can Peyton Manning get back to a Super Bowl? Can the new superstar quarterbacks continue their success?
Our week one Power Rankings will get you ready for another exciting season. Check back every week to see how your team rises and falls!
1. Denver Broncos (2012 record: 13-3)
With a Hall of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning, more than enough playmakers around him and one of the better defenses in the NFL, the Broncos should be in the Super Bowl picture for the entire season. The addition of wide receiver Wes Welker will make this offense the best in the league. Losing linebacker Von Miller to a six-game suspension hurts, but the Broncos can still win the AFC.
2. San Francisco 49ers (2012 record: 11-4-1)
The 49ers got exciting quarterback Colin Kaepernick an important weapon in receiver Anquan Boldin, who was a big reason why Baltimore beat San Francisco in the Super Bowl. Frank Gore is still a great running back, and the 49ers defense will continue to stifle offenses. San Francisco’s biggest threat will be from the next team on this list.
3. Seattle Seahawks (2012 record: 11-5)
The Seahawks are everyone’s new favorite team, and for good reason: they’ve got a rising star quarterback in Russell Wilson and a scary defense. After beating elite teams like the Patriots and the 49ers last season, the Seahawks will show they’re no fluke.
4. New England Patriots (2012 record: 12-4)
No team is more consistent year-to-year than the Patriots. They’re always in the discussion for a championship, and this year will be no different. They lost Welker to Denver, but Danny Amendola is a strong replacement. And we know by now never to count out Tom Brady.
5. Atlanta Falcons (2012 record: 13-3)
This is the year for the Falcons to win it all. Quarterback Matt Ryan has Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez to throw to, and new running back Steven Jackson to help out the running game. Signing Osi Umenyiora should help Atlanta’s pass rush, and the Falcons will be motivated to win for Gonzalez, who has never been to a Super Bowl in his legendary career.
6. Houston Texans (2012 record: 12-4)
The Texans have been close, but not quite good enough to get to a Super Bowl the past two seasons. It will take career years from quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Arian Foster to get them there, as Houston isn’t as explosive as the NFL’s elite offenses. They’ll get help from the defense and J.J. Watt, the best defensive player in the league.
7. Green Bay Packers (2012 record: 11-5)
Aaron Rodgers has entered the category of quarterbacks who can carry a team. Like Brady and Manning, Rodgers can make good receivers look great, and he’ll lead an offense with some pretty solid targets in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Winning the NFC North shouldn’t be an issue for the Packers. Don’t be surprised if you see them in the NFC Championship Game.
8. Baltimore Ravens (2012 record: 10-6)
It’s never easy to win back-to-back championships, but it will be even more difficult for the Ravens. Linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed hung up their cleats after winning it all, and tight end Dennis Pitta is out for the year after getting hurt in training camp. Quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice are still around though, and should get the Ravens back to the playoffs at least as a wild card team.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (2012 record: 10-6)
If Baltimore doesn’t win the AFC North, Cincinnati will. A.J. Green is now an elite wide receiver and deep threat, and a strong draft should make Cincy’s offense more dangerous. The defense has always been strong, so the Bengals have a shot to get past the first round of the playoffs this year.
10. Indianapolis Colts (2012 record: 11-5)
With quarterback Andrew Luck in charge, the Colts will be contenders for a while. Luck will benefit from another year as the team leader, and has both younger weapons and dependable veteran Reggie Wayne to throw to. It will be a while before the Colts can compete with the best, but they’re on the right track.
11. Washington Redskins (2012 record: 10-6)
If RGIII’s knee holds up, this team can be great. If not, no playoffs for Washington.
12. Minnesota Vikings (2012 record: 10-6)
Adrian Peterson is a beast, but will quarterback Christian Ponder prove he can be the team’s leader?
13. New York Giants (2012 record: 9-7)
The Giants are loaded with talent, but they’re too inconsistent to be a lock for the playoffs.
14. Dallas Cowboys (2012 record: 8-8)
In a competitive NFC East, the Cowboys will struggle for a wild card berth.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (2012 record: 8-8)
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are still a quality team, but the AFC North has passed them by.
16. New Orleans Saints (2012 record: 7-9)
We know what Drew Brees and the offense can do, but the defense has to improve after giving up the most yards in a season in NFL history.
17. Kansas City Chiefs (2012 record: 2-14)
Acquiring quarterback Alex Smith and new coach Andy Reid were great moves. If everyone stays healthy, this team could surprise people.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012 record: 7-9)
The Bucs are the best NFL team in Florida, but can they be a playoff team? That’s up to quarterback Josh Freeman.
19. Chicago Bears (2012 record: 10-6)
If new coach Marc Trestman can get his strategies to work in Chicago, the Bears could compete for the postseason.
20. St. Louis Rams (2012 record: 7-8-1)
The Rams are definitely not a bad team, but they play in a division with two elite teams in San Francisco and Seattle.
21. San Diego Chargers (2012 record: 7-9)
Quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers aren’t the exciting and successful team they used to be. It will be another boring, six- or seven-win season in San Diego.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (2012 record: 4-12)
New coach Chip Kelly’s hyper-fast offense was one of the most popular topics of the offseason, but the Eagles don’t have the talent to get to the playoffs.
23. Miami Dolphins (2012 record: 7-9)
The Dolphins brought in lots of free agents to get better, but it won’t be enough to make the postseason.
24. Buffalo Bills (2012 record: 6-10)
New quarterback EJ Manuel brings excitement to Buffalo, but wins will come later.
25. Cleveland Browns (2012 record: 5-11)
The Browns won’t finish higher than third in the AFC North.
26. Carolina Panthers (2012 record: 7-9)
Quarterback Cam Newton has to become a better leader if the Panthers want to compete in the NFC.
27. Tennessee Titans (2012 record: 6-10)
Tennessee can’t beat division rivals Houston and Indianapolis, but running back Chris Johnson can at least make this team fun to watch.
28. Detroit Lions (2012 record: 4-12)
They’ve certainly got talent, but the Lions lack the discipline and execution that winning teams have.
29. New York Jets (2012 record: 6-10)
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith is now in control of a team in disarray.
30. Oakland Raiders (2012 record: 4-12)
The Raiders are in the early stages of a long rebuilding phase, so it’ll be a while before they can compete.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (2012 record: 2-14)
The outlook is bleak for the Jags, but at least their new uniforms are cool.
32. Arizona Cardinals (2012 record: 5-11)
New quarterback Carson Palmer will help, but the Cardinals will still finish at the bottom of the NFC West.
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