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NFL Power Rankings Heading into 2013 OTAs

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NFL Power Rankings Heading into OTAs

Jack Gruber-USA Today Sports

There’s a predictable trend that’s developed at the top and bottom of the NFL Power Rankings. Teams near the top of the rankings have legitimate, established quarterbacks. Those near the bottom are struggling to find one that can consistently perform in the league. This offseason, several teams near the bottom of the rankings acquired quarterbacks in an effort to try and provide stability for their franchises. The Arizona Cardinals, who have not found a suitable replacement for former QB Kurt Warner, traded for veteran Carson Palmer. In turn, the Oakland Raiders traded with the Seahawks for high-priced back up Matt Flynn. Teams know what it takes to win and can’t sit idle while other teams have superior quarterbacks.

Some teams improved themselves through the draft, but it’s hard to move them significantly in the Power Rankings based on the acquisition of players who have never played in the NFL. The same can be said for the rankings that will come out after OTAs. Very little can be gleaned from observing guys jog around in shorts and helmets. Major changes will not take place until the season begins and people can see the impact of personnel moves.

One other final observation is that it is really crowded in the middle of the rankings. The top six or seven teams are pretty well established, as well as the bottom few. The rankings of teams in the middle are extremely fluid because the difference between teams ten and twenty isn’t all that much.

Here’s the NFL Power Rankings heading into OTAs.

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32.) Oakland Raiders

Steven Bisig-USA Today Sports

The Oakland Raiders had the 26th best scoring offense and haven’t done much to improve it. Matt Flynn is still unproven and doesn’t have enough weapons to make them appreciably better.

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31.) Jacksonville Jaguars

Brett Davis-USA Today Sports

The Blaine Gabbert experiment is holding the Jacksonville Jaguars back. They were ranked 29th in offense in 2012, yet passed up on drafting a QB. Justin Blackmon will be suspended for the first four games next year as well. Hard to envision them getting any better in 2013.

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30.) New York Jets

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The quarterback situation will once again be the focus of the New York media. Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith will battle it out for the right to start. The only problem is they don’t have much else by way of talent on offense.

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29.) Buffalo Bills

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The Buffalo Bills are putting all their faith in quarterback E.J. Manuel. He’s got all the physical talent, but didn’t put it all together very often in college. C.J. Spiller is a dynamic back, but he’s had issues staying healthy. While the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots are improving, the Bills seem headed in the other direction.

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28.) Tennessee Titans

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This is Jake Locker’s year to make the big jump. His offensive line has improved, especially with the selection of guard Chance Warmack. Hopefully that will open up holes for Chris Johnson and give him more time to throw.

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27.) Arizona Cardinals

Matt Kartozian-USA Today Sports

The Arizona Cardinals traded for Carson Palmer who should help them improve at the quarterback position, despite the fact that he’s nearing the end of his career. Their defense was ranked 12th in the league and kept them in most of their games last year. Still, it’s not enough improvements across the board.

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26.) Kansas City Chiefs

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New head coach Andy Reid will improve the offense, especially with former San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith at the helm. They got a franchise tackle in Eric Fisher with the first pick of the draft as well. It’s going to take time, but I trust that Reid will get the Kansas City Chiefs headed in the right direction.

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25.) Cleveland Browns

Andrew Weber-USA Today Sports

The Cleveland Browns have done a nice job of acquiring talent on the defensive side of the ball. Former Baltimore Ravens OLB Paul Kruger is now in Cleveland and they spent their first pick on another athletic edge rusher in Barkevious Mingo. Brandon Weeden will be better and Trent Richardson is going to be very good.

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24.) San Diego Chargers

Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports

The loss of Melvin Ingram is going to be painful for a San Diego Chargers defense ranked in the top ten in 2012. Phillip Rivers hasn’t been as sharp in recent years and could be on the downside of his career, believe it or not.

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23.) Philadelphia Eagles

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The Chip Kelly era begins for the Philadelphia Eagles and fans are excited. Michael Vick is likely to start in the spread offense, but it remains to be seen what Kelly’s offense will look like in the pros.

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22.) Detroit Lions

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Calvin Johnson is a freak and commands double coverage for most of the game. Matthew Stafford took a step backwards last year after a stellar 2011 campaign. The defense remains the problem and they tried to address that in the draft with Ziggy Ansah.

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21.) Carolina Panthers

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Cam Newton did not have the type of season he was hoping for in 2012. The lack of a running game isn’t helping him develop as a passer either. Ron Rivera avoided the axe but needs to make dramatic improvements in order to keep his job next year.

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20.) Dallas Cowboys

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The Dallas Cowboys inked Tony Romo to a long-term deal, so he’ll be in Dallas for the foreseeable future. New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will look to improve a defense that let them down at critical moments last year. They’ll be on the cusp of the playoffs once again.

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19.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Greg Schiano did a respectable job in year one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Freeman continues to be inconsistent, slowing down an offense that has plenty of talent. Running back Doug Martin burst onto the scene with a huge year and will be relied on heavily in 2013.

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18.) Pittsburgh Steelers

Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

This isn’t a traditional Pittsburgh Steelers team built on a running game and great defense. The offense is now geared around Ben Roethlisberger, which is disconcerting when you consider how frequently he is injured. The defense addressed their need for a pass rush by drafting Jarvis Jones who has a knack for getting to the QB.

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17.) Chicago Bears

Mike Carter-USA Today Sports

Jay Cutler is mired in mediocrity. He’s just barely above average and his team is in the same boat. Brandon Marshall is a fantastic threat on the outside, but they haven’t been able to find a reliable number two option. The defense is getting old, but they still generate a ton of turnovers

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16.) Miami Dolphins

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The Miami Dolphins feel like they have improved as much as any team. They’ve added Mike Wallace, Brent Grimes, and Dannell Ellerbe to a team who had great moments in 2012. Expect Ryan Tannehill to see a marked improvement with a year of experience under his belt. Lamar Miller could emerge as a great running back in this league soon.

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15.) New Orleans Saints

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Sean Payton is back on the sidelines, but he has major issues on the defensive side of the ball to address. Drew Brees and the offense will always put up points, but they can’t stop anybody through the air. Unless they improve dramatically, they’ll be middle of the pack again.

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14.) Minnesota Vikings

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It’s hard to imagine Adrian Peterson replicating the season he had last year, but he’s proven people wrong before. Christian Ponder hasn’t been consistent enough to take this offense to the next level. They drafted well and should be better on defense.

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13.) St. Louis Rams

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Sam Bradford needed weapons and the St. Louis Rams got him a great one in Tavon Austin. Austin will do a little of everything, but his most important function will be trying to take pressure off Bradford. Their defense is young and talented and they picked up a stud linebacker in Alex Ogletree. They’d be ranked higher but their division is brutal.

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12.) Indianapolis Colts

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Andrew Luck was brilliant in his rookie season in the league. He turned a 2-14 team into a playoff team and gained valuable experience along the way. He’s got solid weapons in Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton.

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11.) New York Giants

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When you’ve won two Super Bowls, you’ve earned a little leeway. But Eli Manning needs to play better. As he goes, so goes the New York Giants. Questions linger at running back after Ahmad Bradshaw left this offseason. David Wilson could be the answer if he’s able to pass protect and hold on to the ball. They’ll challenge for the NFC East title.

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10.) Baltimore Ravens

Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

It’s hard to rank the reigning Super Bowl Champions at #10, but the Baltimore Ravens lost a ton. They signed Joe Flacco to a huge contract and were unable to retain a few of their other stars. Ray Rice will be back, so that combo should be able to move the ball consistently. Their defense will look different, but they addressed as many of those needs as they could in the draft.

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9.) Cincinnati Bengals

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One of the more intriguing teams in the league, the Cincinnati Bengals are on the verge of a deep run. Andy Dalton has reliable skill players around him and a very good defense on the other side. They still might be one year away.

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8.) Washington Redskins

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Assuming Robert Griffin III is healthy, the Washington Redskins will be a contender once again. He puts so much pressure on the opposing defense and makes defenses hesitant to make a mistake. They need to get better in the secondary. But when it’s all said and done, it’s all about Griffin.

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7.) Houston Texans

Brett Davis-USA Today Sports

The Houston Texans defense was outstanding last year, led by J.J. Watt. For the time being, they still have the offensive playmakers to be dangerous. Matt Schaub might actually be holding them back offensively. Arian Foster is still in his prime. Although Andre Johnson is getting older, he’s still a match-up nightmare.

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6.) Green Bay Packers

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Any time you have Aaron Rodgers, you have a chance. He lost one of his trusted wideouts in Greg Jennings, but Randall Cobb is quickly becoming on of the better weapons in the NFC. Defense is still a concern, but Datone Jones could help immediately.

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5.) Atlanta Falcons

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The addition of running back Steven Jackson should improve a running game that wasn’t as productive as it had been in recent years. Matt Ryan is among the elite QBs and played well in the playoffs. Their defense let them down in January, but they did the best they could to draft accordingly.

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4.) New England Patriots

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The clock is ticking for the New England Patriots to win another Super Bowl with Tom Brady. There is legitimate concern about the left forearm of all-everything tight end Rob Gronkowski as he had a fourth surgery just this week. The Patriots will once again have a stellar regular season, it just remains to be seen what happens in January.

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3.) Denver Broncos

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The acquisition of Wes Welker vaults the Denver Broncos ahead of the New England Patriots. Welker will be a security blanket for Peyton Manning when he can’t find his other options downfield. Von Miller is one of the best pass rushers in the league, but their secondary remains a huge question mark. Champ Bailey appeared to be on his last legs in the playoffs last year.

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2.) Seattle Seahawks

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Russell Wilson was a revelation last year and could be better in 2013. Running back Marshawn Lynch will once again be the workhorse on the ground, but they have plenty of skill players to distribute the ball to. Their defense has an abundance of talent, especially in the secondary.

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1.) San Francisco 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers are the most talented and deep team in the NFL. Colin Kaepernick was incredible in the postseason, displaying one of the strongest arms in the league to go along with his rare running ability. Their third-ranked defense will be outstanding once again. There’s no reason to believe they won’t make it back to the Super Bowl once again.