© Andrew Weber | 2015 Jan 11 | USA Today

Initial NFL Power Rankings + 2015 Predictions

How will the 2015 season shake out? Who really knows, but it sure is fun pretending to!

What fun would a new NFL season be without putting reputations on the line with some bold predictions? Answer… none at all, sir! The NFL kicks off the season and the Chase for SuperBowl 50 tonight as the New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a matchup of a combined 10 Lombardi trophies. Look at all the steroid juice and scandalous fingerprints all over that trophy case!

Only time will tell who emerges victorious from the next 21 weeks… but in the meantime we’ll pretend we have a bit of Nostradamus in us. Don’t worry, as the season plays out we’ll hype up what we got right and completely ignore what we were way off about. It’s the sportswriter’s way! Without further ado, our initial Week One NFL Power Rankings (followed by predictions for the season).

Super Bowl Contenders
Rank Team Notes
1 Green Bay Packers Is Aaron Rodgers breathing? OK then.
2 New England Patriots Super Bowl champs lost A LOT at corner, but DeflateGate looks like onus for a double middle-finger campaign.
3 Dallas Cowboys Tell us what this team doesn't have. Don't worry, we'll wait.
4 Seattle Seahawks The addition of Jimmy Graham should matter more, until you see what Golden Tate has done after moving on. 3A to Dallas though.
5 Pittsburgh Steelers Once everyone comes back from suspension, this offense is downright scary. Pouncey injury hurts a lot.
6 Kansas City Chiefs Sneaky-good team. Great defense, Kelce and Maclin will thrive while Charles forces 8 up.
7 Indianapolis Colts Some annoint too quickly, Gore helps a lot but Luck ball security needs to step up a touch.
The Playoff Picture
Rank Team Notes
8 Denver Broncos New offense, old Peyton. That defense though? Whew… scary good top to bottom.
9 Arizona Cardinals Palmer was playing great before injury and Arians can flat-out coach.
10 Philadelphia Eagles Until further notice, this is a team that needs to learn how to finish down the stretch. Will their walking wounded last until December?
11 Detroit Lions Better without Suh? Meh, plenty of questions around Stafford and secondary.
12 Minnesota Vikings Keep sleeping on Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson in a Norv offense, and Zim has this defense rett'a go.
13 Baltimore Ravens It's hard to bet against Ozzie Newsome's Player Factory, but this might be a tough year for the purple birds.
14 St. Louis Rams Jeff Fisher isn't a great coach, stop the Shanahanigans. But that roster is loaded.
15 Miami Dolphins Tremendous defense, now question is can Tannehill improve on 4,000 yards? Lots of personnel upgrades this year.
16 Cincinnati Bengals Swan song for Marvin Lewis, no playoff wins and now no playoff appearance.
17 Buffalo Bills It all hinges on Tyrod Taylor. If he's the truth, the defense will carry the water.
18 New Orleans Saints The team traded explosion for protection, and turns the passing game over to Brandin Cooks.
19 Atlanta Falcons Too much worry in the trenches to expect more than .500.
20 San Diego Chargers Why aren't they better? Can anyone tell me?
The ‘LULZ… No, Seriously?’ Group
Rank Team Notes
21 Carolina Panthers It's all about the Benjamins, baby. Unfortunately for the Panthers.
22 New York Giants How are all the ambulances going to navigate through that New York city traffic? Injury Report on swole.
23 New York Jets Wake me up when Geno wakes up.
24 Houston Texans Strong defense centered around the best player of this generation… but what that offense do?
25 Jacksonville Jaguars Expect big things from Allen Robinson, but not much else.
26 Tennessee Titans Not this year, gents.
27 Oakland Raiders Cooper, Mack and no one else.
28 Cleveland Browns Pour out a little liquor.
29 Washington Footballers May contain football-like substance. Likely won't.
30 Tampa Bay Bucaneers Lovie can win without Rod Marinelli, right? Right?
31 Chicago Bears Floundering franchise, ready to hit the reset button.
32 San Francisco 49ers They DID hit the reset button, didn't work. Now they're blowing into the cartridge to see if that helps.

Here's a look at our 2015 award predictions. Agree to disagree?

NFL MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

Yep, give him his third title. Rodgers is so far and away the best quarterback in the game it isn’t funny. Yes, Romo had a better 2014 and deserved last year’s award, but in 2015, go with the consistency. His performance sans Jordy Nelson will win the votes, despite Romo having a better season than 2014 as well.

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year: RB Ameer Abdullah, Detroit

Abdullah is going to stay on the field all three downs for a prolific offense. It’s not Barry Sanders 2.0, but he’ll lead the pack out of one of the most talented running back draft classes in a long time.

AP Defensive Rookie of the Year: DE Randy Gregory, Dallas

I didn’t think it was possible, but Gregory looks every bit the part of a 10-sack guy in his rookie year. Dallas’ pass rush should be night and day different from last season, and Gregory will be a big part as the Cowboys added three premier rushers to the mix. He’ll have one mission, get to the quarterback, and he’ll do it exceptionally.

AP Coach of the Year: Andy Reid, Kansas City

Going out on a limb, but I see Kansas City going on a deep run this season, and Andy Reid’s coaching will get the credit. Their defense is stacked, the offense seems to finally have true weaponry and Denver is poised for a slight fade. KC gets to 12 wins and the division title and the award is Kool-Aid Man’s.

AP Offensive Player of the Year: RB, Jamaal Charles, Kansas CIty

Charles averages 5.5 yards per carry and 43 receptions a season for his career, and this with limited help in the offense. Expect him to absolutely soar in 2015.

AP Defensive Player of the Year: DE J.J. Watt, Houston

Until dethroned…

Finally, what good would a prediction thread be if a Super Bowl champion wasn't crowned?

NFC Playoff Picture

1: Green Bay Packers (13-3)
2: Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
3: Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
4: New Orleans Saints (9-7)
5: Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
6: Detroit Lions (10-6)
Wild Card Round: Detroit defeats Seattle, Minnesota defeats New Orleans
Divisional Round: Detroit over Green Bay, Dallas over Minnesota
NFC Championship: Dallas over Detroit

AFC Playoff Picture

1: New England Patriots (12-4)
2: Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
3: Indianapolis Colts (12-4)
4: Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
5: Denver Broncos (10-6)
6: Miami Dolphins (9-7)
Wild Card Round: Indianapolis defeats Miami, Denver defeats Pittsburgh
Divisional Round: New England over Denver, Indianapolis over Kansas City
AFC Championship: New England over Indianapolis

SUPER BOWL 50

Dallas over New England. Let it be written.


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