Sadly, the 2013 season has come to a close. For those of you who do not subscribe to the NFL's Game Rewind product you are stuck watching replay's of the league's choosing on the NFL Network. If you don't have the NFL Network...well...I can't help you!
As we move beyond the monumental ass whooping that the Seahawks put on the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII we can begin to look to NEXT season! After all...that's what the GM's and NFL front offices have already started doing...shouldn't we be right there with them??
Without further ado...I have compiled my 2014 Blue Thunder Sports NFL Power Rankings heading into next season. Which teams will make it rain? Which teams will just drizzle all year long? Keep in mind that no draft picks have been made and free agency has yet to take it's toll on the league. Of course, the rankings will change as we move through the off season, but if the season started today (we can dream, right?) this is where I would rank the teams. So here we go...
1. Seahawks - The Super beat down that they laid on the Broncos and the #1 offense shows just how tough this defense really is. This team is primed for another run at the Lombardi trophy right now. Seattle was the youngest team in the 2013 playoffs and have a strong core of players that now have all that playoff and big game experience you could ask for!
2. 49ers - The OTHER team in the NFC West...the 49ers and Seahawks, some say, played the real Super Bowl in the NFC Championship. One of the strongest defenses in the league...a dynamic, play-making QB, strong running game, and a killer instinct....hmm...this sounds awfully familiar (see Seahawks at #1). The 49ers are Seattle's biggest obstacle in 2014 and these two teams will surely have some epic battles in 2014...and I project an NFC Championship rematch.
3. Broncos - Denver may have lost the big game 43-8, but let's not forget that they had the top offense...ever! With a strong core returning including a second year RB in Montee Ball, Knowshon Moreno, the Thomas', Welker the offense should be just as dominating. The defense will also be healthy with the return of Von Miller, and Chris Harris. Oh yeah...and there's that Manning guy.
4. Saints - Drew Brees and Sean Payton will have the Saints ready to play in 2014. Jimmy Graham is still the top TE in the game...and the Saints know how to win. They'll need to play better on the road, but assuming this year was sort of a fluke they should be just fine.
5. Packers - Let's not forget that the Packers were 6-2 with Aaron Rodgers in the lineup. Without Rodgers the Packers won only two games while dropping 5 and achieving a tie. Rodgers will be healthy and with the emerging of RB Eddie Lacy the Packers now have a strong ground game to support him. The Pack will be back in 2014.
6. Panthers - The Panthers defense is for real. Cam Newton is one of the most dynamic players to play in the league. Those two things propel the Panthers to the upper echelon of the NFC. They aren't quite on par with the Seahawks and 49ers, but these guys still know how to play football. Remember...they were a game away from being a game away from the Super Bowl....I know...I just had to throw that in there.
7. Eagles - Chip Kelly and the Eagles proved that their scheme can work at the NFL level. If Foles can keep it up then he and Lesean McCoy will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. They're vulnerable in the secondary, but the offense is capable of putting up points in a hurry. Maclin will return, and Desean Jackson has returned from the grave now that he has a QB who likes to throw before running.
8. Patriots - Will Tom Brady EVER get a receiver to throw the ball to? This team is one dynamic playmaker away from being a top 5 team, but Brady can't do it all on his own. Gronk needs to stay healthy, but the three-headed rushing attack may be Brady's new best friend. Belicheck and Brady will win games....they always do.
9. Colts - The Colts are still getting better. Remember...they're just two years removed from being in the dumps of the NFL. Luck continues to improve and with a little help could take this team even deeper into the playoffs.
10. Chiefs - The Chiefs got off to an astronomical start last season, but couldn't maintain and came back down to Earth. They still have one of the top RBs in the league in Jamaal Charles, and Alex Smith has proven that he can lead a team to victory. The talent is there...the question is whether or not they can put it together for an entire season. I moved them down on this list because they showed that they are beatable in the latter half of the season. I can see this team being a top 5 team, but I can also see this team in the 15-20 range...it just depends on which team shows up.
11. Cardinals - Playing in one of the toughest divisions in football doesn't help, but could be a playoff team.
12. Bengals - Let's not overreact to that playoff loss....it happens
13. Steelers - Should have been a playoff team last year...SHOULD get there in 2014, but we'll see.
14. Chargers - (See Bengals) Don't get too high on these guys...they're still just mediocre.
15. Bears - Nearly made the playoffs in 2013...will need to unseat the Packers to get in for '14
16. Cowboys - Hey! It's America's team! Remember the 90's?
17. Ravens - Ray Rice will return to his old ways in 2014, but is it enough to get back to the playoffs? No...
18. Dolphins - Too much movement in personnel will keep them out of the playoffs in 2014.
19. Rams - If it weren't for the Seahawks, 49ers, and Cardinals this would be a playoff team....needs a QB.
20. Falcons - They SHOULD bounce back...Thomas Dimitroff is a smart guy, but I'll need to "wait and see"
21. Lions - Could be a playoff contender...Bush, Megatron, Suh...come on Lions...get your act together.
22. Jets - Fortunately there are other teams that are worse, but the Jets still aren't any good.
23. Bills - Spiller will need to produce something...and Manuel really needs to take strides in 2014.
24. Giants - Such a huge question mark. Can Eli rebound? Or will he throw another 75 ints?
25. Titans - They're heading in the wrong direction...getting worse...not better.
26. Bucs - This team could improve drastically next season. Glennon could be a top 10 QB, but needs help.
27. Browns - One of these days Cleveland is just going to go off.....just not next year...sorry Browns fans.
28. Vikings - If it weren't for AP the Vikings would be 32 on this list.
29. Redskins - RG3 will be 100%...and that could mean the Skins move way up this list
30. Raiders - Let's face it...the Raiders need so much help...I don't see them surprising anyone
31. Jaguars - It's not getting any better in Jacksonville...they NEED a great draft.
32. Texans - Ew...gross...what happened in Houston?? I'm sure they'll be better, but they aren't yet!