It’s never too early for power rankings. Granted, things could very well change with the draft and free agency, but here is where things stand right now 1-10:
#1- Baltimore Ravens
When I look at them on paper, it’s hard to give them this #1 spot, but they earned last year. Going on the road and beating Manning and Brady and then beating a favored 49ers team is no fluke. Losing Lewis and possibly Ed Reed will hurt though.
#2- San Francisco 49ers
This team was one play (or pass interference call) away from winning the Super Bowl and they are only getting better. As long as Kaepernick stays healthy, they should be able to trade Alex Smith and improve even that much more. My early super bowl pick for next year.
#3- New England Patriots
The Pats have some areas that need addressed, but they still have Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and an explosive offense. If the Pats can sign a few WR, and strengthen their secondary just enough to get them by, look for them to be heading to another Super Bowl.
#4- Seattle Seahawks
A very strong argument could be made for the Denver Broncos here, but I am giving it to the Seahawks for a few reasons. I know they lost their defensive coordinator, but they still have a great defense, a very strong and versatile running game, and I love Russell Wilson.
#5- Denver Broncos
While Peyton Manning and Co. did win 11 straight last year, they did not have to face many quality opponents during that stretch. I think the Broncos are once again one of the two best teams in the AFC, but until they show they can beat the “good” teams, they won’t be any higher than 5. With that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they win 14/15 games next year.
#6- Atlanta Falcons
Every time I think Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons are going to get over the hump, they let me down again. This offseason Tony Gonzalez will be crucial to the Falcons future plans. If Gonzalez retires, the Falcons high-powered offense could be in trouble, especially with a subpar running game.
#7- Houston Texans
I really hesitate to put the Texans in front of the Packers after the way the Texans collapsed last year, but there are two things that I still like more about the Texans that is key. Their defense, buoyed by J.J Watt, could still be really good and they have one of the best running games in the league.
#8- Green Bay Packers
Losing cornerstone players like Driver and Woodson is never easy, no matter how old they are. That combine with a suspect defense (at times), losing Greg Jennings, and a brutal running game has the Packers at #8. They still have Aaron Rodgers though, which means they can never be overlooked.
#9- Cincinnati Bengals
A young nucleus of core players and a ton of cap space (50 something million?) is a really good combination. I am still not sold on Andy Dalton though, especially after last year’s debacle in the playoffs, but the Bengals were good last year and should be even better this year.
#10- Washington Redskins
If I could be reassured without a doubt that RG3 would start week 1 and stay healthy all year, I could see this team as high as #6. Even if that isn’t the case, I can still see this team winning the division, especially when you consider that they had some key injuries last year and were still possibly the best team in the league the second half of the season (along with Broncos and Seahawks).
Follow Cole Stevenson on twitter: @Cole_Stevenson