Back in July, we published a list of preseason power rankings aimed at providing a snapshot of where each franchise stacked up against the other 31 before training camp opened.
With the regular season starting tonight, it’s time to reconfigure the top-to-bottom ranking, which will provide the starting point for the first set that comes after the first slate of games.
Here they are. You know the drill: (1) read them; (2) find one or two that you strongly disagree with; and (3) call us nasty things in the comments.
1. Seattle Seahawks (preseason rank: No. 1): A decade since the Patriots became the last team to repeat, the Seahawks are in the best position to do it.
2. Denver Broncos (preseason rank: No. 3): Will all those new arrivals close that 35-point gap with the Seahawks?
3. New England Patriots (preseason rank: No. 4): They would have been higher if they hadn’t dumped Logan Mankins last week.
4. Green Bay Packers (preseason rank: No. 5): Aaron Rodgers will be the guy to get them to the playoffs. Julius Peppers could be the guy to get them beyond the divisional round.
5. New Orleans Saints (preseason rank: No. 6): They’re overlooked among the league’s elite teams, and they like it.
6. San Francisco 49ers (preseason rank: No. 2): The list of teams that have it better than the 49ers quietly is growing.
7. Baltimore Ravens (preseason rank: No. 7): If this list were based on shameful P.R. responses to a player accused of domestic violence, the Ravens would be No. 1. (Or perhaps No. 2, behind the team that’s currently No. 6 on this list.)
8. Indianapolis Colts (preseason rank: No. 8): The best news about Jim Irsay being suspended for six games is that he won’t be able to complicate trade talks by tweeting about them prematurely.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (preseason rank: No. 9): The streak of playoff appearances could extend to four. The streak of one-and-out playoff appearances could, too.
10. Carolina Panthers (preseason rank: No. 10): When practicing, quarterback Cam Newton has been wearing a rib protector that looks like a life vest. Which makes sense; with significant question marks at left tackle, he could eventually feel be on the wrong side of a Titanic-iceberg re-enactment.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (preseason rank: No. 13): If Nick Foles gets injured, Mark Sanchez could do what Foles did to Mike Vick, who previously did the same thing to Kevin Kolb.
12. Chicago Bears (preseason rank: No. 12): If the defense is only a little bit better, the Bears will get back to the postseason.
13. Arizona Cardinals (preseason rank: No. 11): Bruce Arians’ job has gotten a lot harder, given the injuries and suspensions on the defensive side of the ball.
14. San Diego Chargers (preseason rank: No. 16): Has a team that made it to the playoffs one year ever been so disregarded the next?
15. Pittsburgh Steelers (preseason rank: No. 15): Even with the Cheech & Chong backfield, Pittsburgh’s offense is ready to harsh mellows throughout the AFC.
16. Atlanta Falcons (preseason rank: No. 14): Could a home loss to the Saints in Week One doom the season? Perhaps.
17. Kansas City Chiefs (preseason rank: No. 17): Alex Smith was very wise to sign a long-term contract before the season got rolling.
18. New York Jets (preseason rank: No. 19): Struggles in the secondary have caused many to overlook that the offense is a lot better.
19. Detroit Lions (preseason rank: No. 21): They could set a single-season scoring record and still give up more points than they score.
20. New York Giants (preseason rank: No. 18): It feels like the Giants are trying to change a wheel on a moving car. And it could turn out roughly the same way.
21. Washington (preseason rank: No. 23): RGIII spends so much time talking about not caring about people not liking him that it’s obvious he cares more than anyone realizes.
22. Dallas Cowboys (preseason rank: No. 24): There’s a sneaky chance they’ll finish much lower than this.
23. Minnesota Vikings (preseason rank: No. 27): There’s a sneaky chance they’ll finish much higher than this.
24. St. Louis Rams (preseason rank: No. 20): Shaun Hill is the starting quarterback. That is all.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (preseason rank: No. 26): Trading for Logan Mankins proves that 2014 won’t be a scholarship year.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (preseason rank: No. 29): They’d be higher if Blake Bortles were the starting quarterback.
27. Houston Texans (preseason rank: No. 25): They’d be higher if Ryan Fitzpatrick weren’t.
28. Miami Dolphins (preseason rank: No. 31): Now that they’re in the top 30, maybe owner Stephen Ross won’t call coach Joe Philbin to talk about it.
29. Cleveland Browns (preseason rank: No. 22): Maybe they drafted Johnny Manziel to play receiver?
30. Buffalo Bills (preseason rank: No. 28): Maybe they drafted Sammy Watkins to play quarterback?
31. Tennessee Titans (preseason rank: No. 30): Quick, name one player on the team. Now, name another. Now name one more. If you can’t, you’re hardly alone.
32. Oakland Raiders (preseason rank: No. 32): With Derek Carr’s first two games coming against Rex Ryan’s defense and a team that features J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, is the appropriate term “congratulations” or “condolences”?