2014 NFL Power Rankings: How the League Stacks Up After Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLVIII Win
2014 NFL Power Rankings: Looking at NFL After Super Bowl XLVIII
Super Bowl XLVIII is over. The Seattle Seahawks came into MetLife Stadium, hit the Denver Broncos in the mouth on several occasions, and earned their first victory on the NFL’s biggest stage in the franchise’s history by a dominant score of 43-8.
In the battle between offense and defense, the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” defensive unit reigned supreme. They forced Peyton Manning into three turnovers—two interceptions and one fumble—as well as forcing another fumble from Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and benefiting from a bad snap on the first play from scrimmage by Denver that resulted in a safety. While their defense was obviously the better on Sunday night in that matchup, they dominated in every other aspect of the game as well.
Though Marshawn Lynch remained relatively quiet apart from his rushing touchdown in the second quarter, Russell Wilson came up big for the offense in throwing for 206 yards and two scores, as well as rushing for 26 yards and not turning the ball over. Special teams was also a huge factor as a healthy Percy Harvin took the second-half kickoff 87 yards to the house to increase the Seahawks’ lead at that point in the game to 29-0.
Malcolm Smith was named MVP of the game and the trophies have all been handed out. Peyton is still one of the best to ever do it in the NFL. Richard Sherman has a mild ankle injury. However, these are all things of the past. Now, it’s time to wait until the 2014 NFL regular season—but why wait?
Why indeed. Now is as good a time as ever for 2014 NFL power rankings.
32. Oakland Raiders
With a poor defense, seemingly no long-term answer at quarterback, no one that you can call a reliable weapon on their offense and a burdensome recent history of incompetence and losing, things likely aren’t going to get any better in 2014 for the Oakland Raiders.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars could very well get a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft with some resemblance of skills that will help this team improve. However, with the defense that they currently have, a questionable situation at running back, and the other countless issues with this team, a quarterback and other rookies is only going to matter but so much.
30. New York Giants
Most people seem to consider Eli Manning and the New York Giants’ 2013 season as “just one of those years.” However, with Eli getting older, a defense no longer playing consistently well, and some serious lingering injury concerns throughout their roster, I’m not so sure that “just one of those years” doesn’t last a little bit longer.
29. Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson might be the single best player in the league and Leslie Frazier being out as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings might help their cause. However, as long as Christian Ponder is still having faith instilled in him as a starting quarterback, this team is one I can’t get behind.
28. Tennessee Titans
I’m going to need to see Jake Locker stay healthy, Chris Johnson be healthy and actually seem to care about football, and how the Tennessee Titans’ new coaching situation works out before they move up on this list; it’s that simple.
27. Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo and Jerry Jones are the faces of the Dallas Cowboys lack of success—by their standards—over the past decade and a half or so. However, if their defense doesn’t improve even slightly from how it performed in 2013, this team is destined for mediocrity or worse in 2014.
26. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have a stud in Josh Gordon, a solid defense, but still some rebuilding left to do. We’ll see if 2014 features them moving on from Brandon Weeden, a move that immediately moves them up on this list.
25. Washington Redskins
I may be in the minority, but I still believe in Robert Griffin III after his tumultuous second season with the Washington Redskins. However, with that turmoil and a horrendous defense still lingering, this is hardly a trustworthy group heading into next year.
24. St. Louis Rams
While Sam Bradford still leaves a lukewarm feeling as the franchise quarterback of the St. Louis Rams, seeing the emergence of Zac Stacy and a sometimes impressive and opportunistic defense, this team has a bright future. The issue, though, is that the NFC West is still strong and the Rams still look like fourth-best in the division.
23. New York Jets
Keeping Rex Ryan was the right move for the New York Jets as he will almost surely keep their defense, their lone bright spot, playing effectively. However, with a serious lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball, this team’s ceiling remains relatively low.
22. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill still has some things left to prove as quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, but he did some things to make us start having faith in 2013. Having said that, the Dolphins’ running game is still uncertain and their defense needs some work as well. They have upside, but it might still be a rough year in 2014.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers were a shell of their former selves in 2013, lacking on defense and having no consistent offense outside of throwing the ball to Antonio Brown. They turned it on late in the year, but that’s not enough for me to have high hopes for them in the near future.
20. Baltimore Ravens
From Super Bowl champions last year to missing the postseason this season, the Baltimore Ravens have to be second-guessing the contract that they handed Joe Flacco. More than that, Ray Rice might be in the tank and their defense is good, but not great. Not exactly a recipe for success brewing in the 410 right now.
19. Buffalo Bills
Quite frankly, the Buffalo Bills seem like they should have been better than they were in 2013. With the weapons they have on offense and talent on defense, things should have worked out well. Be it injuries, coaching, or whatever else, though, it didn’t work out. Until it all comes together, you have to pretty much assume that not working out is going to be the trend in Buffalo.
18. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers won the league’s Comeback Player of the Year Award this season and for good reason. He led the San Diego Chargers to an improbable postseason berth and a first round victory. Having said that, the defense in San Diego is still suspect and Rivers isn’t the picture of consistency. A return trip to the playoffs isn’t in their cards from where I’m sitting.
17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not sure why, considering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went just 4-12 in 2013, but I like what this team has going. They are deep and talented at running back, Mike Glennon showed flashes as a rookie quarterback, and their defense—especially if they can keep Darrelle Revis in town—has the talent to succeed. We’ll see if they can keep building and improve, which I think they can in 2014.
16. Houston Texans
Yeah, yeah—the Houston Texans won only two games in 2013 and looked awful; I get it. However, this team has the number one overall pick and talent all over the field. Things just really fell apart for this team and they couldn’t recover. With a changing of the guard in the coaching staff and new blood coming in at quarterback, I like the Texans to bounce back in 2014.
15. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and were a playoff team this year. As long as Andy Dalton is the quarterback and is playing so unpredictably, they aren’t going to get much higher than this for me.
14. Atlanta Falcons
Injuries were a big part of the Atlanta Falcons’ lack of success this season, as were their defensive shortcomings. With a healthy offense coming into next year and likely improvements coming on defense, though, I think they’ll be much more competitive and less of a doormat than they were this season in 2014.
13. Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions should have been in the postseason this year, but fell apart. You can scapegoat several individuals, but I’m of the belief that now former head coach Jim Schwartz was part of the problem. Bringing in Jim Caldwell restores my faith in this team to be successful and make a postseason run.
12. Arizona Cardinals
The biggest task that the Arizona Cardinals will face in the 2014 season is the fact that they play in the NFC West. However, after a successful—although postseason-less—2013 with the teams finally having someone who can throw the ball to the right team under center, you have to expect that Cardinals to remain competitive.
11. Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs’ choke-job in the playoffs leaves a bitter taste in my mouth heading into 2014, but this team is talented, surprisingly explosive, and can hang with the best in the league. They’re in-limbo a bit because of that postseason loss, but they’ll come out swinging in their second season under Andy Reid.
10. Chicago Bears
Whether the Chicago Bears made a smart decision in extending Jay Cutler remains to be seen. However, this offense might have more weapons than it ever has before both on the outside and in Matt Forte. If they can get their defense back even close to how we’re accustomed to seeing them play, the Bears will be a force in the NFC.
9. Indianapolis Colts
The Trent Richardson experiment crashed and burned this year for the Indianapolis Colts and they still were playing in the second round of the AFC Playoffs. Andrew Luck is the real deal, folks, and I don’t expect him to take his foot off of the gas in year three. The real question is if the rest of his team will follow and push this team to even higher heights.
8. New Orleans Saints
This Drew Brees guy is still pretty great at football. Subsequently, so are the New Orleans Saints. Talk about their struggles outdoors and on the road all you want; as long as Brees is still playing effectively under Sean Payton, it’s foolish to not believe in the Saints getting the job done more often than not, especially with an improved defense now.
7. Green Bay Packers
Don’t be fooled by the Green Bay Packers loss in the wildcard round of these playoffs. Aaron Rodgers still had a little rust and this team wasn’t clicking on all cylinders. Come next September when the regular season kicks off, don’t be surprised if Rodgers and company aren’t back looking like possible Super Bowl contenders.
6. New England Patriots
Here’s what you need to know about the New England Patriots: as long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are sporting their logo and able to stand up, I’m not counting them out. That is all.
5. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers were my pick to win the Super Bowl this year when the postseason started. They ended up losing to the eventual champions, but I remain high on them. This is an elite defensive unit and Cam Newton has shown that he can succeed in the moment. If the Panthers can give SuperCam more weapons than just Steve Smith, the Panthers will be cooking.
4. Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning is getting close to being an old man, which I understand. Much like with Belichick and Brady, though, I’ve learned that you don’t ever count out Peyton, or “Old Man Manning” as I petition he should now be called. He’s one of the best to ever do it and was still doing it at an extremely high level. If he can maintain 85 percent of that while the Broncos improve their secondary, the Broncos will be making another run.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
If life is the movie “Independence Day,” Chip Kelly is Jeff Goldblum, Nick Foles is Will Smith and the Philadelphia Eagles are Earth. That’s a convoluted metaphor for Foles and Kelly saving the Eagles and having them looking towards a bright future, but you get the picture. They had their first taste of success in 2013 and I only expect improvement in 2014.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Some might argue that the Seahawks’ biggest competition this season came in the form of their division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. Coming back next season with another year of experience for Colin Kaepernick, a still-loaded defense, and a healthy Michael Crabtree for an entire season and the Niners could be competing near the top of the league for yet another year.
1. Seattle Seahawks
Repeating as champions in the NFL is far from a simple task, but the Seahawks have the makings of a dynasty. Russell Wilson will be in just his third season in 2014, they will (hopefully) have Percy Harvin for a full season in 2014, their defense is the league’s best, and they are the fifth-youngest team in history to win the big game. The champs are the champs until they aren’t champs any more.
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