Initial 2015 NFL Power Rankings- Updated: Wednesday, June 10th
Below are our initial 2015 NFL Power Rankings:
1. Seattle Seahawks (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Since Russell Wilson was drafted in the third round in 2012, no team has fewer pass attempts than Seattle (1,279). Despite leading a run-dominant offense, Wilson has thrown 20-plus TDs with 10 or fewer interceptions in each of his first three seasons. No other QB in league history has done that more than once in his first three seasons. And now Wilson finally has an elite weapon in the passing game with Jimmy Graham.
2. Green Bay Packers (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
By re-signing right tackle Bryan Bulaga and wide receiver Randall Cobb, the Packers return all 11 offensive starters from the league's highest-scoring offense (30.4/G). Of course, the most important returning starter is league MVP Aaron Rodgers. Since becoming the team's starter in 2008, Rodgers leads the NFL in passer rating (106.6) and is one of three quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100.0; Peyton Manning (101.6) and Drew Brees (100.5) are the others.
3. New England Patriots (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
It's unclear if Tom Brady's four-game suspension will get reduced (and by how much), but the biggest (full-season) concern with the Patriots will be on the defensive side of the ball. Four of their top corners from last season including Darrelle Revis are no longer on the roster. The Patriots have often been a bend-don't-break defense (much better in scoring defense than total defense), but they ranked 13th in total defense last season after finishing 25th or worse in the previous four seasons.
4. Indianapolis Colts (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Finishing with an 11-5 record in each of his first three seasons, Andrew Luck set career highs last season with 4,761 passing yards and a league-high 40 passing touchdowns. Only Russell Wilson (36) has more regular-season wins than Luck (33) in the first three seasons of a career. (Luck is tied with Dan Marino and Matt Ryan for second.) Based on odds from Sportsbook.ag, the Colts (+750) have the best odds among AFC teams to win the Super Bowl.
5. Dallas Cowboys (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
The Cowboys won the NFC East and got their first playoff victory since 2009. (And they were a dumb rule taking away a Dez Bryant catch away from getting to the NFC Championship Game). Not only did DeMarco Murray lead the NFL in rushing (1,845), but he broke Emmitt Smith's single-season franchise record. While Murray is gone, the Cowboys still have (one of) the league's best offensive line(s). Their defense was better, but not by much; their 5.809 yards per play allowed was eighth-worst in the NFL. (They were third-worst in 2013 at 6.074.)
6. Baltimore Ravens (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Breaking out as a 29-year-old, Justin Forsett re-signed with the Ravens for three years. His 1,266 rushing yards more than doubled his previous career high (619 in 2009) and only Russell Wilson (7.2 YPC) and Colin Kaepernick (6.1) averaged more yards per carry than Forsett (5.4). The hire of Marc Trestman to run the offense means that Forsett may end up doubling his career high in receptions (44, 2014).
7. Denver Broncos (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Peyton Manning is back for another season with a restructured contract tied to a postseason bonus. Over his illustrious career, Manning is 11-13 in 24 playoff games. In three postseasons with the Broncos, the Manning-led Broncos are one-and-done twice with an embarrassing 43-8 Super Bowl loss in the other postseason. The team's offensive line struggled a bit last year and losses due to injury and free agency make it only worse for the slow-footed Manning.
8. Arizona Cardinals (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
With injuries decimating their quarterback depth chart, the Cardinals scored less than 20 points in all of their final eight games counting their playoff loss with an average of just 12.88/G over that span. In their final three games (losses), however, they allowed 661 rushing yards (6.12 YPC). On a positive note, Carson Palmer (ACL) has already been cleared for 11-on-11 drills.
9. Philadelphia Eagles (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Considering how eventful the offseason was for the Eagles, the NFL Draft was a bit boring. Nelson Agholor fills the void of Jeremy Maclin, but there was no blockbuster trade for Marcus Mariota. Trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford could pay off if Bradford can stay healthy, but he has played just seven games over the past two seasons combined.
10. Pittsburgh Steelers (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have their offense firing on all cylinders, but 2014 was the first time that the defense finished outside the top half of the league in total defense (18th) or scoring defense (18th) since 1991 (Chuck Noll's last season). The Steelers used six of their eight draft picks on the defensive side of the ball including edge rusher Bud Dupree (22nd overall) and cornerback Senquez Golson (56th) with their first two picks.
11. Cincinnati Bengals (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
The good news? Andy Dalton had led the Bengals to the postseason in each of his four seasons. The bad news? Dalton has yet to win a playoff game. In fact, the offense hasn't scored more than 13 points in any of those four playoff losses and he has a combined one-to-six TD-to-INT ratio in the postseason. Dalton threw a career-low 481 pass attempts, but his interception rate (3.5 percent) set a career high. Over the final nine games of the season, no running back rushed for more yards than Jeremy Hill (929; Marshawn Lynch was second, 824) and they will continue to lean heavily on their rushing attack in 2015.
12. Miami Dolphins (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
The Dolphins made a huge free-agent splash by signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, but Ryan Tannehill has made strides in each of his three seasons. All three non-Patriots teams in the AFC East have strong defenses, but the Dolphins have the best quarterback situation out of the group to challenge Brady & Co.
13. Kansas City Chiefs (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Not only did the Chiefs wide receivers have zero touchdowns in 2014, but they also had zero 100-yard games. Of the 208 100-yard receiving games last season in the NFL, tight end Travis Kelce had the Chiefs only 100-yard game. In addition, he had four of the team's nine games with 80-plus receiving yards. With Jeremy Maclin replacing Dwayne Bowe as the team's top receiver, the receiving corps should catch some touchdowns and have some 100-yard games, but Maclin was arguably the biggest free-agency "loser" in terms of his 2015 fantasy football outlook.
14. Detroit Lions (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Not only did the Lions lose Ndamukong Suh in free agency, but they lost all three of their top defensive tackles from last season. Fortunately, they traded for Haloti Ngata and selected Auburn's Gabe Wright in the fourth round to fill part of the void, but no team allowed fewer rushing yards (69.3 YPG, 3.2 YPC) than the Lions last season.
15. Buffalo Bills (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
No team has a longer playoff drought than the Bills (15 seasons), but they posted their first winning season (9-7) since 2004 (also 9-7). In addition, last year's second-place finish ended a streak of six consecutive last-place finishes in the AFC East. There are a lot of new pieces in place (LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Charles Clay in addition to head coach Rex Ryan), but the most important addition may be Matt Cassel as quarterback is clearly the team's biggest weakness.
16. San Diego Chargers (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Despite statements to the contrary prior to the NFL Draft, Philip Rivers appears open to the possibility of a long-term contract extension with the San Diego (Los Angeles?) Chargers as he enters the final year of his deal. The selection of Melvin Gordon in the first round should help take some pressure off Rivers as the Bolts averaged only 3.4 yards per carry (31st in NFL) last season.
17. Minnesota Vikings (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
The Vikings did well, all things considered, in 2014 with a 7-9 record. With a rookie head coach (Mike Zimmer), rookie quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) and no Adrian Peterson after Week 1, the Vikings closed the season with a 5-4 record. Four of the Vikes' nine losses last year were by three points or less, which was tied for the most such losses in the NFL. With their strong 2015 draft class and the return of Peterson, the Vikings could be much higher in our Power Rankings by the end of the season.
18. St. Louis Rams (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Since the Rams hired Jeff Fisher (2012), they rank second in the NFL in sacks (145) and passing touchdowns allowed (55). While the defense hasn't been a problem, Sam Bradford, now in Philadelphia, has played only seven games in the past two years combined. With better health from their starter, now Nick Foles, and a true foundation back in rookie Todd Gurley, the offense should be better in 2015 and beyond.
19. Carolina Panthers (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
The latest $100 Million quarterback, Cam Newton is now under contract through the 2020 season. In his four NFL seasons, Newton has thrown for 3,000-plus yards and rushed for 500-plus yards every season. No other quarterback in NFL history has as many such seasons; Randall Cunningham is second with three.
20. Houston Texans (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
No team ran the ball more than the Texans (551 carries) last season. Of the four teams with at least 500 rush attempts, however, the Texans (3.9 YPC) were the only team that averaged less than 4.5 YPC. That said, Arian Foster averaged 4.8 YPC and rushed for 95.8 yards per game, both of which were the second-highest of his career. Provided Foster can stay healthy, the offense's biggest concern remains the quarterback play as Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer battle it out for the starting gig.
21. New Orleans Saints (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Drew Brees has half of the eight 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history. Although his three-year streak of 5,000-plus yards ended last season, Brees was tied for the NFL lead (4,952). With Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills in Seattle and Miami, respectively, the Saints transition to more of a run-based offense should begin in earnest this year.
22. New York Giants (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Playing only 12 games, Odell Beckham led the NFL in receiving yards per game (108.8). Over the final nine games, ODB reached 90-plus yards every week and posted a nine-game stat line of 81/1,199/9. Only 11 other receivers had that many yards over the entire season.
23. Atlanta Falcons (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Over the past three seasons, the Falcons have a total of 83 sacks -- fewest in the NFL over that span. The selection of edge rusher Vic Beasley eighth overall is a step towards improving their pass rush. The last pass-rusher the Falcons selected in the first round was draft bust Jamaal Anderson (2007, 8th overall).
24. San Francisco 49ers (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Following in the footsteps of Jim Harbaugh, who took the Niners to three NFC Championship Games in four seasons, Jim Tomsula begins his head coaching career with lots of changes to the team's roster. On defense, they lost Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith to retirement, both starting cornerbacks in free agency, plus Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis and Michael Crabtree on offense.
25. New York Jets (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Not only did Leonard Williams, arguably the best prospect in the draft, fall to them at No. 6 to improve an already strong defensive line, but the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will help shore up an atrocious secondary that allowed 31 passing touchdowns with only six interceptions. That said, any hope of ending a four-year playoff drought falls squarely on the shoulders of Geno Smith and his development in Year 3.
26. Cleveland Browns (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Since the return of professional football to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have only three quarterbacks that have won double-digit games: Tim Couch (22), Derek Anderson (16) and Brian Hoyer (10). In fact, Hoyer (10-6) is the only Browns quarterback to post a winning record since 1999 (via Pro Football Reference).
27. Chicago Bears (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Clearly, the Bears have "buyer's remorse" on the seven-year extension given to Jay Cutler by the previous regime. No quarterback had more multi-interception games than Cutler (seven) last season.
28. Washington Redskins (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Not only did RG3 miss multiple games due to injury, he was also benched at one point as well. Lacking the trust of his head coach, RG3 likely has a short leash heading into the 2015 season and threw just four touchdowns (to six interceptions) in 214 pass attempts last season.
29. Oakland Raiders (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
The Raiders have now gone 12 seasons without a winning record following their Super Bowl loss to the Bucs. During that span, they have won five or less games 10 times. The Raiders have had their fare share of misses on high draft picks during that span, but Khalil Mack (last year) and Amari Cooper (this year) are helping to turn the tide.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
Obviously, the Bucs drafted Jameis Winston to be their franchise quarterback for the next decade or more. Of the 130 seasons of 4,000-plus passing yards, the Bucs account for just one -- Josh Freeman (4,065 in 2012). Making the transition easier for Winston, the Bucs have trees for pass-catchers in Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, all 6-foot-5 or taller, and they invested in their offensive line with a pair of second-round selections -- Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
While I believe the Jags are a team heading in the right direction, it's tough that the third-overall pick (Dante Fowler) will miss the entire season after tearing his ACL during rookie mini-camp. Their past five first-round picks (all in the top 10, four in top five) are Blaine Gabbert, Justin Blackmon, Luke Joeckel, Blake Bortles and Fowler. Gabbert was released, Blackmon remains indefinitely suspended and Joeckel has disappointed.
32. Tennessee Titans (Record: 0-0; Last: N/A)
No team has lower Super Bowl 50 odds than the Titans (+20,000). While the Titans used the second-overall pick on Marcus Mariota and seven of their nine picks on offense, their defense allowed 27.4 PPG (tied for 29th in NFL) and 373.0 YPG (27th). On a positive note, reviews of Mariota have been glowing.
Check out more of our content:
- 2015 Fantasy Football Rankings
- 2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator
- 2015 Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule
- 2016 NFL Mock Draft
- 2015 NBA Mock Draft
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