Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Post-Draft (10-1)

1. Seattle Seahawks: The defending Super Bowl champions had a relatively quiet offseason, but then again, they have enough talent on their roster to repeat as champions. Russell Wilson is developing into on of the league's most reliable quarterbacks, and luckily for him, the Seahawks have running back Marshawn Lynch to assist their young passer. Also, Percy Harvin will hopefully be able to play in more games next season, seeing how the Seahawks were 4-0 in games where Harvin played. Yet the most dominant feature of the Seattle Seahawks is their defense, nicknamed the Legion of Boom. Last season, Seattle ranked first overall in total defense, pass defense, and points allowed per game. Seattle will be a favorite to win the Super Bowl once again.

2. Denver Broncos: After an embarrassing loss to a clearly superior Seattle Seahawks team in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Broncos acquired many big names during the offseason, hoping to win a Super Bowl before star quarterback Peyton Manning retires. Denver's defense will now have Pro-Bowlers like DE DeMarcus Ware, CB TJ Ward, CB Aqib Talib, and talented rookie CB Bradley Roby. The receiving corp will now have Emmanuel Sander to replace Eric Decker. Denver has one or two more years to try for a championship with Manning as quarterback, and 2014 will be a chance for revenge by Manning's Broncos.

3. New England Patriots: Many believe that Tom Brady's game has been degrading as of late, causing his status as an elite quarterback to come into question. New England's receiving corp is on the smaller side, with guys like Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman both under six feet. Yet Brady will be more experienced with these younger targets, and more importantly, tight end Rob Gronkowski will hopefully be healthy for the majority of the season. The Patriots also signed cornerback Darrelle Revis, one of the biggest names in all of football, and it seems that Bill Belicheck has managed to keep the star in check. As for the draft, Dominique Easley at defensive tackle is risky, seeing how he is extremely talented but has a history of injuries.

4. San Francisco 49ers: With Pro-Bowl defenders such as Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, and Justin Smith, the San Francisco 49ers have one of the most talented defenses in football. San Francisco's offense is dominated by its run game, where the depth chart of running backs consist of Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and Carlos Hyde, while quarterback Colin Kaepernick is incredible at running the ball as well. Kaepernick's passer rating dipped slightly in 2013, but with receivers Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, and Stevie Johnson, the 49ers will have one of the more reliable passing games in the NFL.

5. Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, possibly the best quarterback in football when healthy, missed seven games last season, but in his Week 17 return against the Chicago Bears, Rodgers threw a game winning pass in the waning seconds of the game to clinch a playoff spot. In the 9 games that Rodgers played in, he had a passer rating of 104.9, a positive sign for next season. Running back Eddie Lacy managed to win Offensive Rookie of the Year last season, whereas cornerback Ha-Ha Clinton Dix will be a contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year next season. The Packers added defensive end Julius Peppers in order to have a defense capable of competing against some of the NFC's strongest offenses.

6. New Orleans Saints: Seeing how the NFC South has many talented quarterbacks, the Saints signed free safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Champ Bailey to improve the pass defense. The New Orleans Saints have one of the league's best passing games, with quarterback Drew Brees leading the way. Brees' receivers are extremely talented, with stars like Robert Meachem, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and tight end Jimmy Graham. There is a lot of pressure on Brees to succeed every single game due to the lack of running game in New Orleans, which is the main reason why the Saints are not ranked higher.

7. Indianapolis Colts: Believe it or not, the Indianapolis Colts' passing game will become even more lethal thanks to Hakeem Knicks being a new member of Indy's receiving corp. Andrew Luck has two years under his belt, and even though Luck did not have more passing yards or touchdowns in comparison to his rookie season, Luck almost cut his interception total in half, therefore improving his passer rating. The defense has a few big names, including D'Qwell Jackson, LaRon Landry, and Robert Mathis, but Indy's defense is still not considered to be one of the league's best.

8. Cincinnati Bengals: Since drafting both receiver AJ Green and quarterback Andy Dalton in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Cincinnati's record has improved gradually with each passing year. Yet even though the Bengals have improved during the regular season, Cincinnati has been getting the same result in each playoff game: a loss in the first round. AJ Green has formed a solid connection with Dalton, and has quickly become one of the best receivers in football. Cincinnati's defense has star defensive tackle Geno Tackle returning from his torn ACL, which will make them even better in 2014. Head coach Marvin Lewis has a 51.4 win percentage during the regular season, but remains 0-5 during the postseason. If the Bengals are unable to win a playoff game in 2014, I could see Lewis being fired on the spot.

9. Arizona Cardinals: The Arizona Cardinals has a sneakily-talented passing game, with experienced, yet undervalued quarterback Carson Palmer at quarterback, and Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and Ted Ginn for receivers. Andre Ellington is now the number one running back on the depth chart, where during his rookie season, Ellington averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Arizona's defense has several Pro-Bowlers on the roster, including Darnell Dockett, John Abraham, and a possible Pro Bowler for future seasons in rookie safety Deone Bucannon. The Cardinals barely missed out of the playoffs last year, and gained a lot of press by snapping Seattle's home win streak.

10. Carolina Panthers: With veteran wide receiver Steve Smith leaving Carolina, young quarterback Cam Newton has very few talented receivers left on the roster. The Panthers managed to sign Jason Avant from Philly and Jerricho Cotchery from Pittsburgh in order to help out Newton following Smith's departure. Carolina had an incredible turnaround on defense, headlined by star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly winning defensive Player of the Year. Kuechly has become the best defender in football, while simultaneously, the Panthers defense have become one of the best in the NFL.

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