Scout's NFL Power Rankings Heading Into Opening Weekend Of The 2015 Season

After a long off-season and pre-season, the kickoff to the NFL regular season is just a few hours away. Seattle, New England, Green Bay, Indy, and Denver lead the way in the Scout NFL Power Rankings heading into week one. It's the usual suspects to begin the season.

 

No. 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 safety Kam Chancellor’s holdout.

Week one: at St. Louis

 

No. 2 New England Patriots

Quarterback Tom Brady won’t miss time for the Patriots. But he doesn’t play in the secondary, where New England has huge holes after losing Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Another key off-season loss was defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Will the defense be up to the task? Bill Belichick will really earn his paycheck this fall and winter. Look for this team to play with a major chip on its shoulder as it attempts to defend the title.

Week one: Pittsburgh

 

No. 3 Green Bay Packers

The loss of wide receiver Jordy Nelson is enormous. Still, quarterback Aaron Rogers has lots of weapons on the perimeter and a run game featuring Eddie Lacy. 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.

Week one: at Chicago

 

No. 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 defense.

Week one: at St. Louis

 

No. 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. Another potential issue is a very young offensive line. The defense could be the better of the two units and their pass rush should be awesome.

Week one: Baltimore

 

No. 6 Arizona Cardinals

I really like this Arizona Cardinals team as long as long as they keep quarterback Carson Palmer healthy. Arizona is 13-2 in Palmer’s last 15 starts as the team’s quarterback. 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.

Week one: New Orleans

 

No. 7 Dallas Cowboys

Dallas really hit its 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. The defense added defensive end Greg Hardy but lost cornerback Orlando Scandrick for the year because of injury. Can the Cowboys find consistent production in the run game to take some of the heat off of Romo and their passing attack?

Week one: New York Giants

 

No. 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. 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.

Week one: at Denver

 

No. 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. Roethlisberger will be missing two young and talented players for the first quarter of the season in Martavis Bryant and running back Le’Veon Bell. So the Steelers added DeAngelo Williams as a great insurance policy. Pittsburgh also placed center Maurkice Pouncey on the team’s reserve/injured; designated for return list. 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.

Week one: at New England

 

No. 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. I see it as a neck and neck race for the NFC East between Philly and Big D.

Week one: at Atlanta

 

No. 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. All things being equal, this should be an even better team this fall in Cincinnati.

Week one: at Oakland

 

No. 12 Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are an ascending franchise, especially with the emergence of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If you are in 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 in 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 defense continues to improve under coach Mike Zimmer.

Week one: at San Francisco

 

No. 13 Miami Dolphins

Could this be the Dolphins’ time to break through New England and win the AFC East? 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 with the mammoth signing of defensive tackle Ndamukoung Suh. He will give this unit an instant impact. The Dolphins front should be radically improved this season. Miami needs running back Lamar Miller and company to really come through this fall.

Week one: at Washington

 

No. 14 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. 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. 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.

Week one: at Houston

 

No. 15 Detroit Lions

This is a much different looking Detroit team, especially defensively. 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, who has looked tremendous. 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.

Week one: at San Diego

 

No. 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 the 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. For now, look for Tre Mason to lead the Rams on the ground.

Week one: Seattle

 

No. 17 Buffalo Bills

Rex 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, who will start the season not 100%. 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. Tyrod Taylor looked good this preseason and begins the year as the Buffalo starting QB.

Week one: Indianapolis

 

No. 18 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. Gordon certainly didn’t get things going during the preseason, which could be a cause for concern. The Chargers are solid at wide receiver and still have tight end Antonio Gates (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.

Week one: Detroit

 

No. 19 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, especially with the season-ending injury to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. 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.

Week one: at Jacksonville

 

No. 20 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 some rookies and veterans. They could be a surprise club if Hoyer can put some points on the board on a consistent basis.

Week one: Kansas City

 

No. 21 New Orleans Saints

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 a good center in Max Unger. Then New Orleans drafted massive offensive tackle Andrus Peat. Another huge offensive addition for this club is running back C.J. Spiller, though he missed the preseason because of injury. If healthy, he should be sensational for this offense in a variety of roles. The defense was addressed, but they have a long way to go.

Week one: at Arizona

 

No. 22 New York Giants

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. 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.

Week one: at Dallas

 

No. 23 Cleveland Browns

I love the defense that Mike Pettine is putting together for the Browns. 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. Josh McCown will begin the season at quarterback. At some point, if healthy, does Johnny Manziel take over?

Week one: at New York Jets

 

No. 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 (once Freeman gets healthy). 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, which will take some time.

Week one: Philadelphia

 

No. 25 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. 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. It should be a very interesting year for this club, especially after so much roster turnover.

Week one: Minnesota

 

No. 26 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 receiver Alshon Jeffery. Rookie Kevin White was placed on the physically unable to perform list last month. 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.

Week one: Green Bay

 

No. 27 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. He looked good over the preseason. Defensively, Oakland has an outstanding second-year pro in outside linebacker Khalil Mack. I don’t see the Raiders contending for the playoffs this season but they are building a nice roster.

Week one: Cincinnati

 

No. 28 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. Of course, the nagging question with this franchise is the quarterback position right now. Geno Smith’s injury (jaw) could be a blessing in disguise. Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the opening-game start.

Week one: Cleveland

 

No. 29 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, though he will miss some time because of a finger injury. 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 a little more explosive this fall. Defensively, Jacksonville already lost first-round draft pick Dante Fowler. Most of this solid unit is back.

Week one: Carolina

 

No. 30 Tampa Bay Bucs

The Bucs are hoping they landed their franchise signal caller in Jameis Winston. He has done and said all the right things lately in Tampa Bay. He has been up and down and played like a rookie this preseason. He has some weapons at receiver and a deep stable of running backs. The issue could be the offensive line. Left tackle Demar Dotson is out for a few weeks with a knee injury. 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.

Week one: Tennessee

 

No. 31 Washington Redskins

This could be a long season in D.C. that will likely not end well for coach Jay Gruden. He recently named Kirk Cousins his starting quarterback over Robert Griffin, III. Cousins needs to have a big year and lead this offense. The defense has to play better at all three levels. Still, it’s a rebuild for Gruden and this franchise.

Week one: Miami

 

No. 32 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. It’s a solid wide receiver corps that could get a huge boost from rookie Dorial Green-Beckham. The Titans just acquired running back Terrance West. Tennessee added some pieces in free agency, though there’s a concern for this unit’s back end.

Week one: at Tampa Bay


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