NFL Preseason Power Rankings

Here are the Scout NFL preseason power rankings as the exhibition season begins. Who starts on top? Where are the Super Bowl champs? Who might be some surprise teams? Check out the video and analysis on all 32 franchises here.

Here's a look at the first set of NFL Power Rankings by Scout just in time for the first big weekend of the NFL exhibition season. This will be a weekly feature on Scout beginning week one of the NFL season in September.


1. Seattle Seahawks

Seattle came so close to winning back to back Super Bowl titles but fell short against New England in February. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks should be hungry for vengeance in 2015. Offensively, they have added a huge weapon in tight end Jimmy Graham. Running back Marshawn Lynch will once again be the thunder for their offense and the defense should be as stout as ever. Despite all the transition with rival San Francisco the NFC West is a brutal division. Still, Seattle should come out on top and challenge for NFL supremacy once again.


2. Green Bay Packers

As long as Aaron Rogers is healthy for the Packers, Green Bay will challenge for the Super Bowl simply because this quarterback is one of the game’s best players on a pretty loaded roster. They re-signed wide receiver Randall Cobb and tackle Bryan Bulaga and the offense gets everyone back. Meanwhile, they retained defensive tackles Letroy Guion and B.J. Raji and drafted secondary help in safety Demarious Randall and cornerback Quinten Rollins, and linebacker Jake Ryan. This unit should be better. Green Bay is once again the favorite to win the NFC North, though it’s an improving division. Remember, this franchise came so close to upending the Seahawks on the road in the NFC Championship Game in January.


3. New England Patriots

Quarterback Tom Brady will miss the Patriots’ first four games. It’s a brutal stretch, opening with Pittsburgh and traveling to Buffalo (week 2) and Dallas (week 5). There’s another home game in there against Jacksonville (week 3) before Brady comes back at Indianapolis (week 6). One would think that New England will come out of this first-half stretch in a hole, but then again we are talking about Bill Belichick’s team. How they manage the first third of the 2015 season will be huge for this franchise. Still, it’s a veteran club that will be led by second-year signal caller Jimmy Garrapolo before they get their future Hall of Fame QB back. Running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are no longer with the team and New England suffered some key losses defensively, namely cornerback Darrelle Revis and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Still, look for a second-half playoff run after Brady returns.


4. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are clearly the class of the AFC South, as everyone is chasing Andrew Luck and Indianapolis. And this young signal caller got more offensive ammunition with the addition of three former Miami Hurricanes in rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett and veteran greats Andre Johnson and Frank Gore. Indy may now have more offensive weapons then anyone in the NFL, which should set them up nicely during the regular season. Clearly this franchise is going all in for a Super Bowl run. The key will be the other side of the ball. Can the defense hold up and be a stout unit?


5. Denver Broncos

2015 will be a season of transition, as former Bronco Gary Kubiak is now the franchise’s head coach. The Broncos are still the class of the AFC West and perhaps the conference as long as quarterback Peyton Manning is healthy. He clearly wasn’t in the back half of last season and Denver faltered. Depending on Manning, the Broncos offense has a great chance once again to be as potent as ever despite the loss of tight end Julius Thomas and a young offensive front. The defense added one of this draft’s top pass rushers in Shane Ray so this unit will have a chance to be even better. This is a team with not much of any kind of weakness and will go as far as Manning can take them.


6. Arizona Cardinals

I really like this Arizona Cardinals team. I can see them making a serious run in the NFC as long as they keep quarterback Carson Palmer healthy. He’s coming off a torn ACL. Arizona is 13-2 in Palmer’s last 15 starts as the team’s quarterback. The offensive front should be outstanding, especially with the additions of guard Mike Iupati and rookie first-round offensive tackle D.J. Humphries. Speaking of rookies, running back David Johnson should be an outstanding complement to Andre Ellington. This offense will be a very balanced yet have quick-strike ability down the field with their talented wide receivers. The defense is outstanding, especially on the back end. But keep in mind Todd Bowles left Arizona to become the Jets head coach. James Bettcher was promoted to defense coordinator and the heat will be on him to keep this unit high flying.


7. Dallas Cowboys

Dallas really hit their stride in 2014, behind an extremely balanced offensive attack and much-improved defense. Quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant are back but gone is running back DeMarco Murray, the leading rusher in the NFL one year ago. That’s going to be a huge loss even though Dallas has one of the game’s top offensive lines. I love what they did in the draft, bringing in cornerback Byron Jones, defensive end/outside linebacker Randy Gregory and then signing offensive tackle La’El Collins. They also added defensive end Greg Hardy, so the defense should get better as the season progresses. For me, the huge question mark is the running game and finding good production to take some of the heat off of Romo and their passing attack.


8. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are consistently one of the league’s best-run franchises. So much credit needs to go to GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. But there’s turnover again in the coaching ranks, as Gary Kubiak left for Denver. The Ravens’ new offensive coordinator is Marc Trestman, Chicago’s former head man. He will now get the chance to work with Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, as they are hoping for a smooth transition. Gone is wide receiver Torrey Smith, but the Ravens drafted Breshad Perriman in the first round. Another selection that could make a big impact this fall is tight end Maxx Williams. Baltimore traded Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to Detroit but could have gotten a third-round steal in defensive tackle Carl Davis. Baltimore could be back in a big way in 2015.


9. Pittsburgh Steelers

All of a sudden it’s the offense carrying this franchise behind their outstanding quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have one of the top batteries in the NFL between Big Ben and wide receiver Antonio Brown. But there’s so much more to the Pittsburgh passing game with the emergence of the young and talented Martavius Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Le’Veon Bell proved last season he’s one of the league’s most dominant running backs but he will miss some games early this season because of a suspension. So the Steelers added DeAngelo Williams. Wow, this unit is going to score a ton of points. The question with this team will be on the other side of the ball. Dick Lebeau is gone as the team’s long-time defensive coordinator. It’s now Kevin Butler’s turn. Two secondary legends retired in safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor. This side of the Pittsburgh roster has seen a ton of turnover and there is a lot of good, young talent at all three levels.


10. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles and Chip Kelly made some bold moves this off-season, starting by trading quarterback Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. The former Sooner and No. 1 overall pick is a much better fit in Philadelphia, but can he stay healthy? Kelly also added some more key pieces to his offense, like running backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews and drafting wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is now in Kansas City while Kelly dealt running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Philly bolstered their secondary by signing free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell. That’s a lot of big moves for this franchise. Certainly on paper Kelly’s Eagles appear to look loaded on offense and have an improved defense. I see it as a neck and neck race for the NFC East between Philly and Big D.


11. Cincinnati Bengals

This franchise has averaged 10 wins a year for the last four consecutive years, only to get bounced early in the playoffs. It’s become a pattern, as Cincinnati has been a good regular season team under coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton. But they are 0-4 in the postseason. Still, this is a more-than-solid club that should be stellar on defense once again. Dalton has one of the game’s best young wide receivers in A J Greene to throw to. The running game is in great shape with two young backs in Gionavi Bernard and Jeremy Hill. The Bengals need to get Tyler Eifert playing like a first-round pick to complement their passing attack. The offensive front got a huge boost when they double downed with two talented offensive tackles in first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi and second-round selection Jake Fisher. All things being equal this should be an even better team this fall in Cincinnati.


12. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are an ascending franchise, especially with the emergence of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If you are Minnesota, all you want to see is continued progression in 2015. That should certainly happen, especially with one of the game’s best players back for the purple in Adrian Peterson. A typical Peterson-like season will take so much pressure off their young signal caller and the passing game. A big question mark is certainly the overall play of the wide receiver corps. Mike Wallace now calls Minnesota home. Will the change of scenery be a positive for this speedy talent after the disappointment in Miami? The Vikings also have to get much more production from the physically gifted Cordarralle Patterson. The defense continues to improve under coach Mike Zimmer. They added some key pieces this off-season like cornerback Trae Waynes and linebacker Eric Kendricks. I really like this team and the direction they are headed.


13. Miami Dolphins

Could this be the Dolphins’ time to break through New England and win the AFC East? It certainly looks possible, especially if Miami can get off to a quick start. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill continues to progress. The Dolphins got him some help by getting rid of Mike Wallace and drafting a big-time wide receiver prospect in DeVante Parker. Jarvis Landry had a good rookie season in 2014 for Miami. The Dolphins made the biggest free agent splash by the mammoth signing of defensive tackle Ndamukoung Suh. He will give this unit an instant impact. Then the fish went out and drafted a very athletic Jordan Phillips at the same position. So the Dolphins front should be radically improved this season. Miami needs to find a more consistent run game to get over the hump. It can’t just be the Tannehill show.


14. Carolina Panthers

There’s no question that the Panthers have one of the better defenses in the league and they used their first-round pick to select one of the best athletes of the ’15 draft in linebacker Shaq Thompson. It’s this side of the ball that will carry Carolina and keep this team in every game. All the pressure mounts for quarterback Cam Newton to carry the burden of putting points on the board with not much help. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was outstanding as a rookie last fall for the Panthers. This spring, Carolina added another big wide receiver in Devin Funchess. They can only hope he plays his first pro season as well as Benjamin did. Gone now is running back DeAngelo Williams (signed with Steelers). Running back Jonathan Stewart needs to have a big year and their offensive front has to stay healthy if they want to make the playoffs once again and win their third consecutive NFC South title.


15. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers could make a run at Denver for this division, but their rookie running back, Melvin Gordon, has to have a huge impact in the San Diego run game. The Chargers are solid at wide receiver with guys like Malcolm Floyd and Keenan Allen and acquired some good veterans here with the signings of Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson. Tight end Antonio Gates is still productive, but he will miss the first four games of the season because of suspension. Philip Rivers is still a very good quarterback in this league. This team has a good defense that could be much better if they can render better pass rush production on the edge.


16. St. Louis Rams

I love what the Rams have been doing to rebuild their roster over the last few years. But at some point they have to break through. St. Louis fields one of the NFL’s top defensive units, including the best and deepest defensive line. The Rams are absolutely loaded up front. The big question mark for this franchise once again is their offense. First it’s quarterback position. They dealt away former top overall pick Sam Bradford for Nick Foles. Can Foles be the man for Jeff Fisher and the Rams? The offensive line has been a weakness and St. Louis spent four picks here, two at tackle and two at guard. Of course this entire unit will get an enormous boost when running back Todd Gurley is healthy and running the football. In time, Gurley should evolve into the cornerstone of their offense.


17. Buffalo Bills

Rex Ryan is now the coach in Buffalo after Doug Marrone abruptly opted out of his contract on New Year’s Eve for the Bills. Ryan has a talented roster at just about every position. The defense is loaded at all three levels and should be one of the best in the NFL. Offensively, Ryan loves to ground and pound. Now Buffalo has one of the game’s top backs in LeSean McCoy. He didn’t come without a price, as the Bills had to deal linebacker Kiko Alonso to get him. Percy Harvin joins Sammy Watkins at wide receiver. An addition to the offensive front is Richie Incognito. The black cloud over this roster is of course quarterback. Matt Cassell, Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel will duel for the starting position, but I don’t think either signal caller is going to scare anyone in this league. One or both of these QBs has to play well in order for the Bills to get to the playoffs.


18. Detroit Lions

This is a much different looking Detroit team, especially defensively. The Lions lost their superstar defensive tackle Ndamukoung Suh to the Dolphins via free agency but traded the Ravens for veteran Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata. They also lost another former first-round pick at tackle in Nick Fairley. Defensive end George Johnson was traded to Tampa Bay. The offense should be more physical, especially up front. The Lions drafted guard Laken Tomlinson and traded with Denver for Manny Rameriz. Reggie Bush is now with the 49ers so Detroit landed a game breaker in Ameer Abdullah. He should be a nice weapon for the Lions in both the run and pass game. Of course, Detroit may have the best one-two punch in the NFL with quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.


19. New Orleans Saints

New Orleans should be better in 2015. The question is by just how much? The Saints traded away their most dynamic weapon in tight end Jimmy Graham. There’s no doubt that’s going to sting, especially his loss of production. But in return the Saints landed an outstanding center in Max Unger. Then New Orleans drafted massive offensive tackle Andrus Peat. So on paper the offensive front looks so much better heading into this season. After all, the top priority is to protect quarterback Drew Brees. Another huge offensive addition for this club is running back C.J. Spiller. He should be sensational for this offense in a variety of roles. The defense was addressed, but they have a long way to go. New Orleans signed cornerback Brandon Browner via free agency and drafted some talented players like inside ’backer Stephone Anthony, pass rusher Hau’oli Kikaha and defensive back P.J. Williams.


20. New York Giants

It’s a good thing that the Giants drafted Ereck Flowers with their first pick this spring because New York lost starting left tackle Will Beatty for five to six months with a torn pectoral muscle. Now Tom Couglin must get Flowers ready or go to Justin Pugh. But at least this franchise knows that going into training camp. Regardless, this is a team that should have the ability to score a bunch of points with triggerman Eli Manning. Odell Beckham, Jr. took the NFL by storm last season as a rookie wide receiver. He was sensational and immediately became one of the league’s most explosive perimeter players. New York has a nice running back by committee and they added Shane Vereen, who’s terrific in the passing game. The Giants had a stellar draft and should get some immediate help on defense with safety Landon Collins and defensive end Owamagbe Odigihizuwa. Then there was the July 4th fireworks/finger injury to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. How much will the loss of his index finger affect his production? The end result is that this team will most likely be chasing the Eagles and Cowboys.


21. Houston Texans

This team has some talent but has a huge question at quarterback for Bill O’Brien’s Texans. Brian Hoyer is now the team’s signal caller. He had some nice moments in Cleveland. Arian Foster is still the guy at running back, but he isn’t getting any younger. Andre Johnson is now a Colt but Houston did draft a good wide receiver in Jaelen Strong to complement DeAndre Hopkins on the outside. Defensively, this franchise is outstanding, led by the league’s best player in J.J. Watt. The Texans should be even better in 2015 with a healthy Jadeveon Clowney and the additions of cornerback Kevin Johnson, linebacker Benardrick McKinney, safety Rahim Moore and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. They could be a surprise club if Hoyer can put some points on the board on a consistent basis.


22. Kansas City Chiefs

How can you compete in today’s NFL with zero threat at the wide receiver position? Last year there wasn’t a single touchdown reception from this position for the Chiefs. That’s beyond anemic. But that looks to change and change quickly in 2015. Andy Reid is being reunited with one of his Philadelphia draft picks in wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Gone now is the underachieving Dwayne Bowe. KC did pick a talented and athletic Chris Conley in the draft. Alex Smith returns as the team’s quarterback. He’s solid and dependable. When healthy, Jamaal Charles is one of the game’s most dangerous backs while Travis Kelce is one of the better young tight ends. The defense is the strength of this roster, led by one of the game’s premier defenders in outside linebacker Justin Houston. This is a very good unit that should only be better, especially with first-round pick, cornerback Marcus Peters.


23. Chicago Bears

John Fox takes over in Chicago with some good pieces and not-so-good pieces. He has an established veteran quarterback in Jay Cutler that needs to learn to play with consistency. They should have balance between their run game with Matt Forte and outstanding receivers in Alshon Jeffery and rookie Kevin White. They also signed Eddie Royal via free agency, who is a solid guy in the slot. The issues will be on the other side of the ball as this team moves to a 3-4 scheme. The Bears did draft Eddie Goldman, who should give them a nice anchor up front. It will be interesting to see if this franchise has the right pieces to make this defense work to their advantage in 2015.


24. Atlanta Falcons

There’s no question that the Falcons have enough talent to push for a playoff spot, especially on offense with quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Atlanta drafted running back Tevin Coleman, who should pair nicely with Devonta Freeman. There’s still work to be done on the offensive front, but they are good enough to score a bunch of points. Speaking of work, new head coach Dan Quinn has to revamp the Dirty Bird defense. The overhaul has begun with free agent signings of defensive end Adrian Clayborn and linebacker O’Brien Schofield. Then the Falcons brass invested heavily in this unit via the draft with their first-round pick in outside linebacker Vic Beasley, second-round pick in cornerback Jalen Collins and fifth-round pick in nose tackle Grady Jarrett. That’s a good start for Quinn and company.


25. New York Jets

Todd Bowles takes over in New York. He and the Jets were busy this off-season with lots of moves. New roster additions are cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and offensive linemen James Carpenter. Then they went and had a great draft, landing defensive lineman Leonard Williams, wide receiver Devin Smith and outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin. I also love the fact they drafted quarterback Bryce Petty. He can really spin the ball but needs to adapt to the NFL game after playing in Baylor’s spread. Of course the nagging question with this franchise is the quarterback position right now. It’s a pretty talented roster, but can Geno Smith evolve into a signal caller that can lead this team to the playoffs?


26. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are a completely different team from the one they fielded 10 months ago. Jim Tomsula takes over a squad that has sustained some key losses on both sides of the ball. Linebackers Chris Borland and Patrick Willis and defensive end Justin Smith all retired. Offensive guard Mike Iupati, running back Frank Gore, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and cornerbacks Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox are all gone. The latest trouble comes with the release of Aldon Smith. San Francisco signed Darnell Dockett and spent their first three draft picks on defensive players at each level – defensive end Arik Armstead, linebacker Eli Harold and safety Jaquiski Tartt. Some big-play reinforcements were brought in offensively, like running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Torrey Smith to give quarterback Colin Kaepernick some more weapons. Still, this signal caller must play with more consistency for this franchise to challenge again in the very tough NFC West.


27. Jacksonville Jaguars

Quarterback Blake Bortles played well as a rookie in Jacksonville and I love the fact that the Jaguars brass went out and got him some much needed help and weapons. They spent money in free agency to land former Denver tight end Julius Thomas. Then they hit some key finds in the draft with running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Rashad Greene. This is a young unit that will grow up together. Certainly this team should be better and little more explosive this fall. Defensively, Jacksonville already lost first-round draft pick Dante Fowler. This outstanding pass-rushing talent tore up his knee during OTAs and is lost for the year. Obviously, Gus Bradley will have to wait to incorporate Fowler’s talent into his defense. Most of this solid unit is back and they also added defensive tackle Jared Odrick and linebacker Dan Skuta.


28. Cleveland Browns

I love the defense that Mike Pettine is putting together for the Browns. Love it. And they added some veterans players like defensive tackle Randy Starks and cornerback Tramon Williams as well as big-time rookies like nose tackle Danny Shelton and defensive end Nate Orchard. This unit will win some games for Cleveland this fall. Most of the question marks for this team are on the other side of the ball. Has Johnny Manziel hit professional puberty and finally matured to learn to become a real NFL quarterback? All signs have pointed to him having an outstanding off-season. Boy, does this offense need Manziel playing well. Can you imagine the spark he could provide the franchise and city if he can get out Josh McCown? But they can’t do it alone. The Browns have a nice running back rotation, but there is no NFL defense that will fear anyone in their wide receiver corps. At least Cleveland is building a very formidable and versatile offensive front.


29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs are hoping they landed their franchise signal caller in Jameis Winston. He has done and said all the right things from day one in Tampa Bay. This is a team tall and talented in the passing game with wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A good run game will help Winston and their passing attack. The Bucs could start two rookies up front, which bodes well for the long term, but they may have some growing pains early. Remember that Tampa Bay now has Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator. He will be a massive upgrade over what happened in Lovie Smith’s first year with the Bucs. Defensively, this team has to find a pass rush. The Tampa-2 is predicated on pressure from their front four. The Bucs field two of the better players at their respective positions in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. If the Bucs are to push for the NFC South, their rookies need to play like veterans and they have to get after the quarterback.


30. Oakland Raiders

Jack Del Rio inherited an Oakland Raiders team that has some key players on both sides of the ball that they could build around. Offensively, it starts with second year quarterback Derek Carr. He did well during his first season despite not much help around him. That changed quickly, as the Raiders drafted what should be an instant impact guy in Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. Third-round pick Clive Walford should be a go-to guy for Carr as a tight end. Veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree and running back Trent Richardson are now on the silver and black roster. Defensively, Oakland has an outstanding second-year pro in outside linebacker Khalil Mack. The No. 5 overall pick had a terrific rookie season one year ago and looks like he has star written all over him. Second-round pick Mario Edwards could be a versatile down lineman for this unit. I don’t see the Raiders contending for the playoffs this season but they are building a nice roster.


31. Tennessee Titans

I am expecting improvement with Ken Whisenhunt’s Titans in year two of his regime in Tennessee, even with a young Marcus Mariota running the show. He’s finally signed and ready to go. The good news is that this offense has a very good line in front of him. It’s a solid wide receiver corps that could get a huge boost from rookie Dorial Green-Beckham. Another rookie that could be impactful is running back David Cobb. Defensively, Tennessee added some pieces in free agency like outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and cornerback Perrish Cox. Overall, there’s a concern for this units back end.


32. Washington Redskins

This is a make or break season for Robert Griffin, III. Can he return to his rookie form? It’s imperative that he makes big strides if this franchise is to make a push to the playoffs. RG3 has a good running game behind him, led by the underrated Alfred Morris. Of course, DeSean Jackson is one of the game’s best big-play wide receivers. The Redskins picked the top offensive line prospect in the draft in Brandon Scherff, who could be this year’s Zack Martin. Almost as big of a question mark is the Washington defense. This unit has to get better and needs to play better at all three levels. Still, it’s a rebuild for Jay Gruden and this franchise. It could be another long season in D.C.



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Here's a look at the first set of NFL Power Rankings by Scout just in time for the first big weekend of the NFL exhibition season. This will be a weekly feature on Scout beginning week one of the NFL season in September.

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1. Seattle Seahawks

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Seattle came so close to winning back to back Super Bowl titles but fell short against New England in February. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks should be hungry for vengeance in 2015. Offensively, they have added a huge weapon in tight end Jimmy Graham. Running back Marshawn Lynch will once again be the thunder for their offense and the defense should be as stout as ever. Despite all the transition with rival San Francisco the NFC West is a brutal division. Still, Seattle should come out on top and challenge for NFL supremacy once again.

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2. Green Bay Packers

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As long as Aaron Rogers is healthy for the Packers, Green Bay will challenge for the Super Bowl simply because this quarterback is one of the game’s best players on a pretty loaded roster. They re-signed wide receiver Randall Cobb and tackle Bryan Bulaga and the offense gets everyone back. Meanwhile, they retained defensive tackles Letroy Guion and B.J. Raji and drafted secondary help in safety Demarious Randall and cornerback Quinten Rollins, and linebacker Jake Ryan. This unit should be better. Green Bay is once again the favorite to win the NFC North, though it’s an improving division. Remember, this franchise came so close to upending the Seahawks on the road in the NFC Championship Game in January.

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3. New England Patriots

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Quarterback Tom Brady will miss the Patriots’ first four games. It’s a brutal stretch, opening with Pittsburgh and traveling to Buffalo (week 2) and Dallas (week 5). There’s another home game in there against Jacksonville (week 3) before Brady comes back at Indianapolis (week 6). One would think that New England will come out of this first-half stretch in a hole, but then again we are talking about Bill Belichick’s team. How they manage the first third of the 2015 season will be huge for this franchise. Still, it’s a veteran club that will be led by second-year signal caller Jimmy Garrapolo before they get their future Hall of Fame QB back. Running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are no longer with the team and New England suffered some key losses defensively, namely cornerback Darrelle Revis and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Still, look for a second-half playoff run after Brady returns.

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4. Indianapolis Colts

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The Colts are clearly the class of the AFC South, as everyone is chasing Andrew Luck and Indianapolis. And this young signal caller got more offensive ammunition with the addition of three former Miami Hurricanes in rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett and veteran greats Andre Johnson and Frank Gore. Indy may now have more offensive weapons then anyone in the NFL, which should set them up nicely during the regular season. Clearly this franchise is going all in for a Super Bowl run. The key will be the other side of the ball. Can the defense hold up and be a stout unit?

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5. Denver Broncos

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2015 will be a season of transition, as former Bronco Gary Kubiak is now the franchise’s head coach. The Broncos are still the class of the AFC West and perhaps the conference as long as quarterback Peyton Manning is healthy. He clearly wasn’t in the back half of last season and Denver faltered. Depending on Manning, the Broncos offense has a great chance once again to be as potent as ever despite the loss of tight end Julius Thomas and a young offensive front. The defense added one of this draft’s top pass rushers in Shane Ray so this unit will have a chance to be even better. This is a team with not much of any kind of weakness and will go as far as Manning can take them.

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6. Arizona Cardinals

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I really like this Arizona Cardinals team. I can see them making a serious run in the NFC as long as they keep quarterback Carson Palmer healthy. He’s coming off a torn ACL. Arizona is 13-2 in Palmer’s last 15 starts as the team’s quarterback. The offensive front should be outstanding, especially with the additions of guard Mike Iupati and rookie first-round offensive tackle D.J. Humphries. Speaking of rookies, running back David Johnson should be an outstanding complement to Andre Ellington. This offense will be a very balanced yet have quick-strike ability down the field with their talented wide receivers. The defense is outstanding, especially on the back end. But keep in mind Todd Bowles left Arizona to become the Jets head coach. James Bettcher was promoted to defense coordinator and the heat will be on him to keep this unit high flying.

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7. Dallas Cowboys

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Dallas really hit their stride in 2014, behind an extremely balanced offensive attack and much-improved defense. Quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant are back but gone is running back DeMarco Murray, the leading rusher in the NFL one year ago. That’s going to be a huge loss even though Dallas has one of the game’s top offensive lines. I love what they did in the draft, bringing in cornerback Byron Jones, defensive end/outside linebacker Randy Gregory and then signing offensive tackle La’El Collins. They also added defensive end Greg Hardy, so the defense should get better as the season progresses. For me, the huge question mark is the running game and finding good production to take some of the heat off of Romo and their passing attack.

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8. Baltimore Ravens

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The Ravens are consistently one of the league’s best-run franchises. So much credit needs to go to GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. But there’s turnover again in the coaching ranks, as Gary Kubiak left for Denver. The Ravens’ new offensive coordinator is Marc Trestman, Chicago’s former head man. He will now get the chance to work with Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, as they are hoping for a smooth transition. Gone is wide receiver Torrey Smith, but the Ravens drafted Breshad Perriman in the first round. Another selection that could make a big impact this fall is tight end Maxx Williams. Baltimore traded Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to Detroit but could have gotten a third-round steal in defensive tackle Carl Davis. Baltimore could be back in a big way in 2015.

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9. Pittsburgh Steelers

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All of a sudden it’s the offense carrying this franchise behind their outstanding quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have one of the top batteries in the NFL between Big Ben and wide receiver Antonio Brown. But there’s so much more to the Pittsburgh passing game with the emergence of the young and talented Martavius Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Le’Veon Bell proved last season he’s one of the league’s most dominant running backs but he will miss some games early this season because of a suspension. So the Steelers added DeAngelo Williams. Wow, this unit is going to score a ton of points. The question with this team will be on the other side of the ball. Dick Lebeau is gone as the team’s long-time defensive coordinator. It’s now Kevin Butler’s turn. Two secondary legends retired in safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor. This side of the Pittsburgh roster has seen a ton of turnover and there is a lot of good, young talent at all three levels.

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10. Philadelphia Eagles

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The Eagles and Chip Kelly made some bold moves this off-season, starting by trading quarterback Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. The former Sooner and No. 1 overall pick is a much better fit in Philadelphia, but can he stay healthy? Kelly also added some more key pieces to his offense, like running backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews and drafting wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is now in Kansas City while Kelly dealt running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Philly bolstered their secondary by signing free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell. That’s a lot of big moves for this franchise. Certainly on paper Kelly’s Eagles appear to look loaded on offense and have an improved defense. I see it as a neck and neck race for the NFC East between Philly and Big D.

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11. Cincinnati Bengals

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This franchise has averaged 10 wins a year for the last four consecutive years, only to get bounced early in the playoffs. It’s become a pattern, as Cincinnati has been a good regular season team under coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton. But they are 0-4 in the postseason. Still, this is a more-than-solid club that should be stellar on defense once again. Dalton has one of the game’s best young wide receivers in A J Greene to throw to. The running game is in great shape with two young backs in Gionavi Bernard and Jeremy Hill. The Bengals need to get Tyler Eifert playing like a first-round pick to complement their passing attack. The offensive front got a huge boost when they double downed with two talented offensive tackles in first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi and second-round selection Jake Fisher. All things being equal this should be an even better team this fall in Cincinnati.

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12. Minnesota Vikings

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The Vikings are an ascending franchise, especially with the emergence of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If you are Minnesota, all you want to see is continued progression in 2015. That should certainly happen, especially with one of the game’s best players back for the purple in Adrian Peterson. A typical Peterson-like season will take so much pressure off their young signal caller and the passing game. A big question mark is certainly the overall play of the wide receiver corps. Mike Wallace now calls Minnesota home. Will the change of scenery be a positive for this speedy talent after the disappointment in Miami? The Vikings also have to get much more production from the physically gifted Cordarralle Patterson. The defense continues to improve under coach Mike Zimmer. They added some key pieces this off-season like cornerback Trae Waynes and linebacker Eric Kendricks. I really like this team and the direction they are headed.

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13. Miami Dolphins

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Could this be the Dolphins’ time to break through New England and win the AFC East? It certainly looks possible, especially if Miami can get off to a quick start. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill continues to progress. The Dolphins got him some help by getting rid of Mike Wallace and drafting a big-time wide receiver prospect in DeVante Parker. Jarvis Landry had a good rookie season in 2014 for Miami. The Dolphins made the biggest free agent splash by the mammoth signing of defensive tackle Ndamukoung Suh. He will give this unit an instant impact. Then the fish went out and drafted a very athletic Jordan Phillips at the same position. So the Dolphins front should be radically improved this season. Miami needs to find a more consistent run game to get over the hump. It can’t just be the Tannehill show.

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14. Carolina Panthers

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There’s no question that the Panthers have one of the better defenses in the league and they used their first-round pick to select one of the best athletes of the ’15 draft in linebacker Shaq Thompson. It’s this side of the ball that will carry Carolina and keep this team in every game. All the pressure mounts for quarterback Cam Newton to carry the burden of putting points on the board with not much help. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was outstanding as a rookie last fall for the Panthers. This spring, Carolina added another big wide receiver in Devin Funchess. They can only hope he plays his first pro season as well as Benjamin did. Gone now is running back DeAngelo Williams (signed with Steelers). Running back Jonathan Stewart needs to have a big year and their offensive front has to stay healthy if they want to make the playoffs once again and win their third consecutive NFC South title.

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15. San Diego Chargers

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The Chargers could make a run at Denver for this division, but their rookie running back, Melvin Gordon, has to have a huge impact in the San Diego run game. The Chargers are solid at wide receiver with guys like Malcolm Floyd and Keenan Allen and acquired some good veterans here with the signings of Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson. Tight end Antonio Gates is still productive, but he will miss the first four games of the season because of suspension. Philip Rivers is still a very good quarterback in this league. This team has a good defense that could be much better if they can render better pass rush production on the edge.

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16. St. Louis Rams

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I love what the Rams have been doing to rebuild their roster over the last few years. But at some point they have to break through. St. Louis fields one of the NFL’s top defensive units, including the best and deepest defensive line. The Rams are absolutely loaded up front. The big question mark for this franchise once again is their offense. First it’s quarterback position. They dealt away former top overall pick Sam Bradford for Nick Foles. Can Foles be the man for Jeff Fisher and the Rams? The offensive line has been a weakness and St. Louis spent four picks here, two at tackle and two at guard. Of course this entire unit will get an enormous boost when running back Todd Gurley is healthy and running the football. In time, Gurley should evolve into the cornerstone of their offense.

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17. Buffalo Bills

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Rex Ryan is now the coach in Buffalo after Doug Marrone abruptly opted out of his contract on New Year’s Eve for the Bills. Ryan has a talented roster at just about every position. The defense is loaded at all three levels and should be one of the best in the NFL. Offensively, Ryan loves to ground and pound. Now Buffalo has one of the game’s top backs in LeSean McCoy. He didn’t come without a price, as the Bills had to deal linebacker Kiko Alonso to get him. Percy Harvin joins Sammy Watkins at wide receiver. An addition to the offensive front is Richie Incognito. The black cloud over this roster is of course quarterback. Matt Cassell, Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel will duel for the starting position, but I don’t think either signal caller is going to scare anyone in this league. One or both of these QBs has to play well in order for the Bills to get to the playoffs.

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18. Detroit Lions

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This is a much different looking Detroit team, especially defensively. The Lions lost their superstar defensive tackle Ndamukoung Suh to the Dolphins via free agency but traded the Ravens for veteran Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata. They also lost another former first-round pick at tackle in Nick Fairley. Defensive end George Johnson was traded to Tampa Bay. The offense should be more physical, especially up front. The Lions drafted guard Laken Tomlinson and traded with Denver for Manny Rameriz. Reggie Bush is now with the 49ers so Detroit landed a game breaker in Ameer Abdullah. He should be a nice weapon for the Lions in both the run and pass game. Of course, Detroit may have the best one-two punch in the NFL with quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

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19. New Orleans Saints

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New Orleans should be better in 2015. The question is by just how much? The Saints traded away their most dynamic weapon in tight end Jimmy Graham. There’s no doubt that’s going to sting, especially his loss of production. But in return the Saints landed an outstanding center in Max Unger. Then New Orleans drafted massive offensive tackle Andrus Peat. So on paper the offensive front looks so much better heading into this season. After all, the top priority is to protect quarterback Drew Brees. Another huge offensive addition for this club is running back C.J. Spiller. He should be sensational for this offense in a variety of roles. The defense was addressed, but they have a long way to go. New Orleans signed cornerback Brandon Browner via free agency and drafted some talented players like inside ’backer Stephone Anthony, pass rusher Hau’oli Kikaha and defensive back P.J. Williams.

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20. New York Giants

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It’s a good thing that the Giants drafted Ereck Flowers with their first pick this spring because New York lost starting left tackle Will Beatty for five to six months with a torn pectoral muscle. Now Tom Couglin must get Flowers ready or go to Justin Pugh. But at least this franchise knows that going into training camp. Regardless, this is a team that should have the ability to score a bunch of points with triggerman Eli Manning. Odell Beckham, Jr. took the NFL by storm last season as a rookie wide receiver. He was sensational and immediately became one of the league’s most explosive perimeter players. New York has a nice running back by committee and they added Shane Vereen, who’s terrific in the passing game. The Giants had a stellar draft and should get some immediate help on defense with safety Landon Collins and defensive end Owamagbe Odigihizuwa. Then there was the July 4th fireworks/finger injury to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. How much will the loss of his index finger affect his production? The end result is that this team will most likely be chasing the Eagles and Cowboys.

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21. Houston Texans

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This team has some talent but has a huge question at quarterback for Bill O’Brien’s Texans. Brian Hoyer is now the team’s signal caller. He had some nice moments in Cleveland. Arian Foster is still the guy at running back, but he isn’t getting any younger. Andre Johnson is now a Colt but Houston did draft a good wide receiver in Jaelen Strong to complement DeAndre Hopkins on the outside. Defensively, this franchise is outstanding, led by the league’s best player in J.J. Watt. The Texans should be even better in 2015 with a healthy Jadeveon Clowney and the additions of cornerback Kevin Johnson, linebacker Benardrick McKinney, safety Rahim Moore and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. They could be a surprise club if Hoyer can put some points on the board on a consistent basis.

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22. Kansas City Chiefs

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How can you compete in today’s NFL with zero threat at the wide receiver position? Last year there wasn’t a single touchdown reception from this position for the Chiefs. That’s beyond anemic. But that looks to change and change quickly in 2015. Andy Reid is being reunited with one of his Philadelphia draft picks in wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Gone now is the underachieving Dwayne Bowe. KC did pick a talented and athletic Chris Conley in the draft. Alex Smith returns as the team’s quarterback. He’s solid and dependable. When healthy, Jamaal Charles is one of the game’s most dangerous backs while Travis Kelce is one of the better young tight ends. The defense is the strength of this roster, led by one of the game’s premier defenders in outside linebacker Justin Houston. This is a very good unit that should only be better, especially with first-round pick, cornerback Marcus Peters.

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23. Chicago Bears

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John Fox takes over in Chicago with some good pieces and not-so-good pieces. He has an established veteran quarterback in Jay Cutler that needs to learn to play with consistency. They should have balance between their run game with Matt Forte and outstanding receivers in Alshon Jeffery and rookie Kevin White. They also signed Eddie Royal via free agency, who is a solid guy in the slot. The issues will be on the other side of the ball as this team moves to a 3-4 scheme. The Bears did draft Eddie Goldman, who should give them a nice anchor up front. It will be interesting to see if this franchise has the right pieces to make this defense work to their advantage in 2015.

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24. Atlanta Falcons

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There’s no question that the Falcons have enough talent to push for a playoff spot, especially on offense with quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Atlanta drafted running back Tevin Coleman, who should pair nicely with Devonta Freeman. There’s still work to be done on the offensive front, but they are good enough to score a bunch of points. Speaking of work, new head coach Dan Quinn has to revamp the Dirty Bird defense. The overhaul has begun with free agent signings of defensive end Adrian Clayborn and linebacker O’Brien Schofield. Then the Falcons brass invested heavily in this unit via the draft with their first-round pick in outside linebacker Vic Beasley, second-round pick in cornerback Jalen Collins and fifth-round pick in nose tackle Grady Jarrett. That’s a good start for Quinn and company.

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25. New York Jets

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Todd Bowles takes over in New York. He and the Jets were busy this off-season with lots of moves. New roster additions are cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and offensive linemen James Carpenter. Then they went and had a great draft, landing defensive lineman Leonard Williams, wide receiver Devin Smith and outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin. I also love the fact they drafted quarterback Bryce Petty. He can really spin the ball but needs to adapt to the NFL game after playing in Baylor’s spread. Of course the nagging question with this franchise is the quarterback position right now. It’s a pretty talented roster, but can Geno Smith evolve into a signal caller that can lead this team to the playoffs?

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26. San Francisco 49ers

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The 49ers are a completely different team from the one they fielded 10 months ago. Jim Tomsula takes over a squad that has sustained some key losses on both sides of the ball. Linebackers Chris Borland and Patrick Willis and defensive end Justin Smith all retired. Offensive guard Mike Iupati, running back Frank Gore, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and cornerbacks Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox are all gone. The latest trouble comes with the release of Aldon Smith. San Francisco signed Darnell Dockett and spent their first three draft picks on defensive players at each level – defensive end Arik Armstead, linebacker Eli Harold and safety Jaquiski Tartt. Some big-play reinforcements were brought in offensively, like running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Torrey Smith to give quarterback Colin Kaepernick some more weapons. Still, this signal caller must play with more consistency for this franchise to challenge again in the very tough NFC West.

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27. Jacksonville Jaguars

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Quarterback Blake Bortles played well as a rookie in Jacksonville and I love the fact that the Jaguars brass went out and got him some much needed help and weapons. They spent money in free agency to land former Denver tight end Julius Thomas. Then they hit some key finds in the draft with running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Rashad Greene. This is a young unit that will grow up together. Certainly this team should be better and little more explosive this fall. Defensively, Jacksonville already lost first-round draft pick Dante Fowler. This outstanding pass-rushing talent tore up his knee during OTAs and is lost for the year. Obviously, Gus Bradley will have to wait to incorporate Fowler’s talent into his defense. Most of this solid unit is back and they also added defensive tackle Jared Odrick and linebacker Dan Skuta.

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28. Cleveland Browns

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I love the defense that Mike Pettine is putting together for the Browns. Love it. And they added some veterans players like defensive tackle Randy Starks and cornerback Tramon Williams as well as big-time rookies like nose tackle Danny Shelton and defensive end Nate Orchard. This unit will win some games for Cleveland this fall. Most of the question marks for this team are on the other side of the ball. Has Johnny Manziel hit professional puberty and finally matured to learn to become a real NFL quarterback? All signs have pointed to him having an outstanding off-season. Boy, does this offense need Manziel playing well. Can you imagine the spark he could provide the franchise and city if he can get out Josh McCown? But they can’t do it alone. The Browns have a nice running back rotation, but there is no NFL defense that will fear anyone in their wide receiver corps. At least Cleveland is building a very formidable and versatile offensive front.

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29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Bucs are hoping they landed their franchise signal caller in Jameis Winston. He has done and said all the right things from day one in Tampa Bay. This is a team tall and talented in the passing game with wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A good run game will help Winston and their passing attack. The Bucs could start two rookies up front, which bodes well for the long term, but they may have some growing pains early. Remember that Tampa Bay now has Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator. He will be a massive upgrade over what happened in Lovie Smith’s first year with the Bucs. Defensively, this team has to find a pass rush. The Tampa-2 is predicated on pressure from their front four. The Bucs field two of the better players at their respective positions in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. If the Bucs are to push for the NFC South, their rookies need to play like veterans and they have to get after the quarterback.

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30. Oakland Raiders

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Jack Del Rio inherited an Oakland Raiders team that has some key players on both sides of the ball that they could build around. Offensively, it starts with second year quarterback Derek Carr. He did well during his first season despite not much help around him. That changed quickly, as the Raiders drafted what should be an instant impact guy in Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. Third-round pick Clive Walford should be a go-to guy for Carr as a tight end. Veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree and running back Trent Richardson are now on the silver and black roster. Defensively, Oakland has an outstanding second-year pro in outside linebacker Khalil Mack. The No. 5 overall pick had a terrific rookie season one year ago and looks like he has star written all over him. Second-round pick Mario Edwards could be a versatile down lineman for this unit. I don’t see the Raiders contending for the playoffs this season but they are building a nice roster.

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31. Tennessee Titans

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I am expecting improvement with Ken Whisenhunt’s Titans in year two of his regime in Tennessee, even with a young Marcus Mariota running the show. He’s finally signed and ready to go. The good news is that this offense has a very good line in front of him. It’s a solid wide receiver corps that could get a huge boost from rookie Dorial Green-Beckham. Another rookie that could be impactful is running back David Cobb. Defensively, Tennessee added some pieces in free agency like outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and cornerback Perrish Cox. Overall, there’s a concern for this units back end.

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32. Washington Redskins

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This is a make or break season for Robert Griffin, III. Can he return to his rookie form? It’s imperative that he makes big strides if this franchise is to make a push to the playoffs. RG3 has a good running game behind him, led by the underrated Alfred Morris. Of course, DeSean Jackson is one of the game’s best big-play wide receivers. The Redskins picked the top offensive line prospect in the draft in Brandon Scherff, who could be this year’s Zack Martin. Almost as big of a question mark is the Washington defense. This unit has to get better and needs to play better at all three levels. Still, it’s a rebuild for Jay Gruden and this franchise. It could be another long season in D.C.

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","mobileBody":"

Here's a look at the first set of NFL Power Rankings by Scout just in time for the first big weekend of the NFL exhibition season. This will be a weekly feature on Scout beginning week one of the NFL season in September.

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1. Seattle Seahawks

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Seattle came so close to winning back to back Super Bowl titles but fell short against New England in February. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks should be hungry for vengeance in 2015. Offensively, they have added a huge weapon in tight end Jimmy Graham. Running back Marshawn Lynch will once again be the thunder for their offense and the defense should be as stout as ever. Despite all the transition with rival San Francisco the NFC West is a brutal division. Still, Seattle should come out on top and challenge for NFL supremacy once again.

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2. Green Bay Packers

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As long as Aaron Rogers is healthy for the Packers, Green Bay will challenge for the Super Bowl simply because this quarterback is one of the game’s best players on a pretty loaded roster. They re-signed wide receiver Randall Cobb and tackle Bryan Bulaga and the offense gets everyone back. Meanwhile, they retained defensive tackles Letroy Guion and B.J. Raji and drafted secondary help in safety Demarious Randall and cornerback Quinten Rollins, and linebacker Jake Ryan. This unit should be better. Green Bay is once again the favorite to win the NFC North, though it’s an improving division. Remember, this franchise came so close to upending the Seahawks on the road in the NFC Championship Game in January.

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3. New England Patriots

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Quarterback Tom Brady will miss the Patriots’ first four games. It’s a brutal stretch, opening with Pittsburgh and traveling to Buffalo (week 2) and Dallas (week 5). There’s another home game in there against Jacksonville (week 3) before Brady comes back at Indianapolis (week 6). One would think that New England will come out of this first-half stretch in a hole, but then again we are talking about Bill Belichick’s team. How they manage the first third of the 2015 season will be huge for this franchise. Still, it’s a veteran club that will be led by second-year signal caller Jimmy Garrapolo before they get their future Hall of Fame QB back. Running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are no longer with the team and New England suffered some key losses defensively, namely cornerback Darrelle Revis and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Still, look for a second-half playoff run after Brady returns.

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4. Indianapolis Colts

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The Colts are clearly the class of the AFC South, as everyone is chasing Andrew Luck and Indianapolis. And this young signal caller got more offensive ammunition with the addition of three former Miami Hurricanes in rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett and veteran greats Andre Johnson and Frank Gore. Indy may now have more offensive weapons then anyone in the NFL, which should set them up nicely during the regular season. Clearly this franchise is going all in for a Super Bowl run. The key will be the other side of the ball. Can the defense hold up and be a stout unit?

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5. Denver Broncos

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2015 will be a season of transition, as former Bronco Gary Kubiak is now the franchise’s head coach. The Broncos are still the class of the AFC West and perhaps the conference as long as quarterback Peyton Manning is healthy. He clearly wasn’t in the back half of last season and Denver faltered. Depending on Manning, the Broncos offense has a great chance once again to be as potent as ever despite the loss of tight end Julius Thomas and a young offensive front. The defense added one of this draft’s top pass rushers in Shane Ray so this unit will have a chance to be even better. This is a team with not much of any kind of weakness and will go as far as Manning can take them.

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6. Arizona Cardinals

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I really like this Arizona Cardinals team. I can see them making a serious run in the NFC as long as they keep quarterback Carson Palmer healthy. He’s coming off a torn ACL. Arizona is 13-2 in Palmer’s last 15 starts as the team’s quarterback. The offensive front should be outstanding, especially with the additions of guard Mike Iupati and rookie first-round offensive tackle D.J. Humphries. Speaking of rookies, running back David Johnson should be an outstanding complement to Andre Ellington. This offense will be a very balanced yet have quick-strike ability down the field with their talented wide receivers. The defense is outstanding, especially on the back end. But keep in mind Todd Bowles left Arizona to become the Jets head coach. James Bettcher was promoted to defense coordinator and the heat will be on him to keep this unit high flying.

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7. Dallas Cowboys

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Dallas really hit their stride in 2014, behind an extremely balanced offensive attack and much-improved defense. Quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant are back but gone is running back DeMarco Murray, the leading rusher in the NFL one year ago. That’s going to be a huge loss even though Dallas has one of the game’s top offensive lines. I love what they did in the draft, bringing in cornerback Byron Jones, defensive end/outside linebacker Randy Gregory and then signing offensive tackle La’El Collins. They also added defensive end Greg Hardy, so the defense should get better as the season progresses. For me, the huge question mark is the running game and finding good production to take some of the heat off of Romo and their passing attack.

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8. Baltimore Ravens

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The Ravens are consistently one of the league’s best-run franchises. So much credit needs to go to GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh. But there’s turnover again in the coaching ranks, as Gary Kubiak left for Denver. The Ravens’ new offensive coordinator is Marc Trestman, Chicago’s former head man. He will now get the chance to work with Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, as they are hoping for a smooth transition. Gone is wide receiver Torrey Smith, but the Ravens drafted Breshad Perriman in the first round. Another selection that could make a big impact this fall is tight end Maxx Williams. Baltimore traded Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to Detroit but could have gotten a third-round steal in defensive tackle Carl Davis. Baltimore could be back in a big way in 2015.

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9. Pittsburgh Steelers

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All of a sudden it’s the offense carrying this franchise behind their outstanding quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have one of the top batteries in the NFL between Big Ben and wide receiver Antonio Brown. But there’s so much more to the Pittsburgh passing game with the emergence of the young and talented Martavius Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Le’Veon Bell proved last season he’s one of the league’s most dominant running backs but he will miss some games early this season because of a suspension. So the Steelers added DeAngelo Williams. Wow, this unit is going to score a ton of points. The question with this team will be on the other side of the ball. Dick Lebeau is gone as the team’s long-time defensive coordinator. It’s now Kevin Butler’s turn. Two secondary legends retired in safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor. This side of the Pittsburgh roster has seen a ton of turnover and there is a lot of good, young talent at all three levels.

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10. Philadelphia Eagles

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The Eagles and Chip Kelly made some bold moves this off-season, starting by trading quarterback Nick Foles for Sam Bradford. The former Sooner and No. 1 overall pick is a much better fit in Philadelphia, but can he stay healthy? Kelly also added some more key pieces to his offense, like running backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews and drafting wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is now in Kansas City while Kelly dealt running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Philly bolstered their secondary by signing free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell. That’s a lot of big moves for this franchise. Certainly on paper Kelly’s Eagles appear to look loaded on offense and have an improved defense. I see it as a neck and neck race for the NFC East between Philly and Big D.

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11. Cincinnati Bengals

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This franchise has averaged 10 wins a year for the last four consecutive years, only to get bounced early in the playoffs. It’s become a pattern, as Cincinnati has been a good regular season team under coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton. But they are 0-4 in the postseason. Still, this is a more-than-solid club that should be stellar on defense once again. Dalton has one of the game’s best young wide receivers in A J Greene to throw to. The running game is in great shape with two young backs in Gionavi Bernard and Jeremy Hill. The Bengals need to get Tyler Eifert playing like a first-round pick to complement their passing attack. The offensive front got a huge boost when they double downed with two talented offensive tackles in first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi and second-round selection Jake Fisher. All things being equal this should be an even better team this fall in Cincinnati.

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12. Minnesota Vikings

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The Vikings are an ascending franchise, especially with the emergence of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If you are Minnesota, all you want to see is continued progression in 2015. That should certainly happen, especially with one of the game’s best players back for the purple in Adrian Peterson. A typical Peterson-like season will take so much pressure off their young signal caller and the passing game. A big question mark is certainly the overall play of the wide receiver corps. Mike Wallace now calls Minnesota home. Will the change of scenery be a positive for this speedy talent after the disappointment in Miami? The Vikings also have to get much more production from the physically gifted Cordarralle Patterson. The defense continues to improve under coach Mike Zimmer. They added some key pieces this off-season like cornerback Trae Waynes and linebacker Eric Kendricks. I really like this team and the direction they are headed.

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13. Miami Dolphins

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Could this be the Dolphins’ time to break through New England and win the AFC East? It certainly looks possible, especially if Miami can get off to a quick start. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill continues to progress. The Dolphins got him some help by getting rid of Mike Wallace and drafting a big-time wide receiver prospect in DeVante Parker. Jarvis Landry had a good rookie season in 2014 for Miami. The Dolphins made the biggest free agent splash by the mammoth signing of defensive tackle Ndamukoung Suh. He will give this unit an instant impact. Then the fish went out and drafted a very athletic Jordan Phillips at the same position. So the Dolphins front should be radically improved this season. Miami needs to find a more consistent run game to get over the hump. It can’t just be the Tannehill show.

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14. Carolina Panthers

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There’s no question that the Panthers have one of the better defenses in the league and they used their first-round pick to select one of the best athletes of the ’15 draft in linebacker Shaq Thompson. It’s this side of the ball that will carry Carolina and keep this team in every game. All the pressure mounts for quarterback Cam Newton to carry the burden of putting points on the board with not much help. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was outstanding as a rookie last fall for the Panthers. This spring, Carolina added another big wide receiver in Devin Funchess. They can only hope he plays his first pro season as well as Benjamin did. Gone now is running back DeAngelo Williams (signed with Steelers). Running back Jonathan Stewart needs to have a big year and their offensive front has to stay healthy if they want to make the playoffs once again and win their third consecutive NFC South title.

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15. San Diego Chargers

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The Chargers could make a run at Denver for this division, but their rookie running back, Melvin Gordon, has to have a huge impact in the San Diego run game. The Chargers are solid at wide receiver with guys like Malcolm Floyd and Keenan Allen and acquired some good veterans here with the signings of Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson. Tight end Antonio Gates is still productive, but he will miss the first four games of the season because of suspension. Philip Rivers is still a very good quarterback in this league. This team has a good defense that could be much better if they can render better pass rush production on the edge.

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16. St. Louis Rams

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I love what the Rams have been doing to rebuild their roster over the last few years. But at some point they have to break through. St. Louis fields one of the NFL’s top defensive units, including the best and deepest defensive line. The Rams are absolutely loaded up front. The big question mark for this franchise once again is their offense. First it’s quarterback position. They dealt away former top overall pick Sam Bradford for Nick Foles. Can Foles be the man for Jeff Fisher and the Rams? The offensive line has been a weakness and St. Louis spent four picks here, two at tackle and two at guard. Of course this entire unit will get an enormous boost when running back Todd Gurley is healthy and running the football. In time, Gurley should evolve into the cornerstone of their offense.

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17. Buffalo Bills

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Rex Ryan is now the coach in Buffalo after Doug Marrone abruptly opted out of his contract on New Year’s Eve for the Bills. Ryan has a talented roster at just about every position. The defense is loaded at all three levels and should be one of the best in the NFL. Offensively, Ryan loves to ground and pound. Now Buffalo has one of the game’s top backs in LeSean McCoy. He didn’t come without a price, as the Bills had to deal linebacker Kiko Alonso to get him. Percy Harvin joins Sammy Watkins at wide receiver. An addition to the offensive front is Richie Incognito. The black cloud over this roster is of course quarterback. Matt Cassell, Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel will duel for the starting position, but I don’t think either signal caller is going to scare anyone in this league. One or both of these QBs has to play well in order for the Bills to get to the playoffs.

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18. Detroit Lions

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This is a much different looking Detroit team, especially defensively. The Lions lost their superstar defensive tackle Ndamukoung Suh to the Dolphins via free agency but traded the Ravens for veteran Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata. They also lost another former first-round pick at tackle in Nick Fairley. Defensive end George Johnson was traded to Tampa Bay. The offense should be more physical, especially up front. The Lions drafted guard Laken Tomlinson and traded with Denver for Manny Rameriz. Reggie Bush is now with the 49ers so Detroit landed a game breaker in Ameer Abdullah. He should be a nice weapon for the Lions in both the run and pass game. Of course, Detroit may have the best one-two punch in the NFL with quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

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19. New Orleans Saints

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New Orleans should be better in 2015. The question is by just how much? The Saints traded away their most dynamic weapon in tight end Jimmy Graham. There’s no doubt that’s going to sting, especially his loss of production. But in return the Saints landed an outstanding center in Max Unger. Then New Orleans drafted massive offensive tackle Andrus Peat. So on paper the offensive front looks so much better heading into this season. After all, the top priority is to protect quarterback Drew Brees. Another huge offensive addition for this club is running back C.J. Spiller. He should be sensational for this offense in a variety of roles. The defense was addressed, but they have a long way to go. New Orleans signed cornerback Brandon Browner via free agency and drafted some talented players like inside ’backer Stephone Anthony, pass rusher Hau’oli Kikaha and defensive back P.J. Williams.

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20. New York Giants

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It’s a good thing that the Giants drafted Ereck Flowers with their first pick this spring because New York lost starting left tackle Will Beatty for five to six months with a torn pectoral muscle. Now Tom Couglin must get Flowers ready or go to Justin Pugh. But at least this franchise knows that going into training camp. Regardless, this is a team that should have the ability to score a bunch of points with triggerman Eli Manning. Odell Beckham, Jr. took the NFL by storm last season as a rookie wide receiver. He was sensational and immediately became one of the league’s most explosive perimeter players. New York has a nice running back by committee and they added Shane Vereen, who’s terrific in the passing game. The Giants had a stellar draft and should get some immediate help on defense with safety Landon Collins and defensive end Owamagbe Odigihizuwa. Then there was the July 4th fireworks/finger injury to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. How much will the loss of his index finger affect his production? The end result is that this team will most likely be chasing the Eagles and Cowboys.

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21. Houston Texans

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This team has some talent but has a huge question at quarterback for Bill O’Brien’s Texans. Brian Hoyer is now the team’s signal caller. He had some nice moments in Cleveland. Arian Foster is still the guy at running back, but he isn’t getting any younger. Andre Johnson is now a Colt but Houston did draft a good wide receiver in Jaelen Strong to complement DeAndre Hopkins on the outside. Defensively, this franchise is outstanding, led by the league’s best player in J.J. Watt. The Texans should be even better in 2015 with a healthy Jadeveon Clowney and the additions of cornerback Kevin Johnson, linebacker Benardrick McKinney, safety Rahim Moore and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. They could be a surprise club if Hoyer can put some points on the board on a consistent basis.

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22. Kansas City Chiefs

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How can you compete in today’s NFL with zero threat at the wide receiver position? Last year there wasn’t a single touchdown reception from this position for the Chiefs. That’s beyond anemic. But that looks to change and change quickly in 2015. Andy Reid is being reunited with one of his Philadelphia draft picks in wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Gone now is the underachieving Dwayne Bowe. KC did pick a talented and athletic Chris Conley in the draft. Alex Smith returns as the team’s quarterback. He’s solid and dependable. When healthy, Jamaal Charles is one of the game’s most dangerous backs while Travis Kelce is one of the better young tight ends. The defense is the strength of this roster, led by one of the game’s premier defenders in outside linebacker Justin Houston. This is a very good unit that should only be better, especially with first-round pick, cornerback Marcus Peters.

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23. Chicago Bears

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John Fox takes over in Chicago with some good pieces and not-so-good pieces. He has an established veteran quarterback in Jay Cutler that needs to learn to play with consistency. They should have balance between their run game with Matt Forte and outstanding receivers in Alshon Jeffery and rookie Kevin White. They also signed Eddie Royal via free agency, who is a solid guy in the slot. The issues will be on the other side of the ball as this team moves to a 3-4 scheme. The Bears did draft Eddie Goldman, who should give them a nice anchor up front. It will be interesting to see if this franchise has the right pieces to make this defense work to their advantage in 2015.

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24. Atlanta Falcons

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There’s no question that the Falcons have enough talent to push for a playoff spot, especially on offense with quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Atlanta drafted running back Tevin Coleman, who should pair nicely with Devonta Freeman. There’s still work to be done on the offensive front, but they are good enough to score a bunch of points. Speaking of work, new head coach Dan Quinn has to revamp the Dirty Bird defense. The overhaul has begun with free agent signings of defensive end Adrian Clayborn and linebacker O’Brien Schofield. Then the Falcons brass invested heavily in this unit via the draft with their first-round pick in outside linebacker Vic Beasley, second-round pick in cornerback Jalen Collins and fifth-round pick in nose tackle Grady Jarrett. That’s a good start for Quinn and company.

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25. New York Jets

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Todd Bowles takes over in New York. He and the Jets were busy this off-season with lots of moves. New roster additions are cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and offensive linemen James Carpenter. Then they went and had a great draft, landing defensive lineman Leonard Williams, wide receiver Devin Smith and outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin. I also love the fact they drafted quarterback Bryce Petty. He can really spin the ball but needs to adapt to the NFL game after playing in Baylor’s spread. Of course the nagging question with this franchise is the quarterback position right now. It’s a pretty talented roster, but can Geno Smith evolve into a signal caller that can lead this team to the playoffs?

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26. San Francisco 49ers

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The 49ers are a completely different team from the one they fielded 10 months ago. Jim Tomsula takes over a squad that has sustained some key losses on both sides of the ball. Linebackers Chris Borland and Patrick Willis and defensive end Justin Smith all retired. Offensive guard Mike Iupati, running back Frank Gore, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and cornerbacks Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox are all gone. The latest trouble comes with the release of Aldon Smith. San Francisco signed Darnell Dockett and spent their first three draft picks on defensive players at each level – defensive end Arik Armstead, linebacker Eli Harold and safety Jaquiski Tartt. Some big-play reinforcements were brought in offensively, like running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Torrey Smith to give quarterback Colin Kaepernick some more weapons. Still, this signal caller must play with more consistency for this franchise to challenge again in the very tough NFC West.

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27. Jacksonville Jaguars

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Quarterback Blake Bortles played well as a rookie in Jacksonville and I love the fact that the Jaguars brass went out and got him some much needed help and weapons. They spent money in free agency to land former Denver tight end Julius Thomas. Then they hit some key finds in the draft with running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Rashad Greene. This is a young unit that will grow up together. Certainly this team should be better and little more explosive this fall. Defensively, Jacksonville already lost first-round draft pick Dante Fowler. This outstanding pass-rushing talent tore up his knee during OTAs and is lost for the year. Obviously, Gus Bradley will have to wait to incorporate Fowler’s talent into his defense. Most of this solid unit is back and they also added defensive tackle Jared Odrick and linebacker Dan Skuta.

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28. Cleveland Browns

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I love the defense that Mike Pettine is putting together for the Browns. Love it. And they added some veterans players like defensive tackle Randy Starks and cornerback Tramon Williams as well as big-time rookies like nose tackle Danny Shelton and defensive end Nate Orchard. This unit will win some games for Cleveland this fall. Most of the question marks for this team are on the other side of the ball. Has Johnny Manziel hit professional puberty and finally matured to learn to become a real NFL quarterback? All signs have pointed to him having an outstanding off-season. Boy, does this offense need Manziel playing well. Can you imagine the spark he could provide the franchise and city if he can get out Josh McCown? But they can’t do it alone. The Browns have a nice running back rotation, but there is no NFL defense that will fear anyone in their wide receiver corps. At least Cleveland is building a very formidable and versatile offensive front.

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29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Bucs are hoping they landed their franchise signal caller in Jameis Winston. He has done and said all the right things from day one in Tampa Bay. This is a team tall and talented in the passing game with wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. A good run game will help Winston and their passing attack. The Bucs could start two rookies up front, which bodes well for the long term, but they may have some growing pains early. Remember that Tampa Bay now has Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator. He will be a massive upgrade over what happened in Lovie Smith’s first year with the Bucs. Defensively, this team has to find a pass rush. The Tampa-2 is predicated on pressure from their front four. The Bucs field two of the better players at their respective positions in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. If the Bucs are to push for the NFC South, their rookies need to play like veterans and they have to get after the quarterback.

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30. Oakland Raiders

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Jack Del Rio inherited an Oakland Raiders team that has some key players on both sides of the ball that they could build around. Offensively, it starts with second year quarterback Derek Carr. He did well during his first season despite not much help around him. That changed quickly, as the Raiders drafted what should be an instant impact guy in Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. Third-round pick Clive Walford should be a go-to guy for Carr as a tight end. Veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree and running back Trent Richardson are now on the silver and black roster. Defensively, Oakland has an outstanding second-year pro in outside linebacker Khalil Mack. The No. 5 overall pick had a terrific rookie season one year ago and looks like he has star written all over him. Second-round pick Mario Edwards could be a versatile down lineman for this unit. I don’t see the Raiders contending for the playoffs this season but they are building a nice roster.

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31. Tennessee Titans

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I am expecting improvement with Ken Whisenhunt’s Titans in year two of his regime in Tennessee, even with a young Marcus Mariota running the show. He’s finally signed and ready to go. The good news is that this offense has a very good line in front of him. It’s a solid wide receiver corps that could get a huge boost from rookie Dorial Green-Beckham. Another rookie that could be impactful is running back David Cobb. Defensively, Tennessee added some pieces in free agency like outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and cornerback Perrish Cox. Overall, there’s a concern for this units back end.

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32. Washington Redskins

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This is a make or break season for Robert Griffin, III. Can he return to his rookie form? It’s imperative that he makes big strides if this franchise is to make a push to the playoffs. RG3 has a good running game behind him, led by the underrated Alfred Morris. Of course, DeSean Jackson is one of the game’s best big-play wide receivers. The Redskins picked the top offensive line prospect in the draft in Brandon Scherff, who could be this year’s Zack Martin. Almost as big of a question mark is the Washington defense. This unit has to get better and needs to play better at all three levels. Still, it’s a rebuild for Jay Gruden and this franchise. It could be another long season in D.C.

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