Sundays during the fall are my favorite days of the year. Sure, Friday and Saturday I can have a night out on the town, do dinner and a movie, or even check out that new gastro pub that opened up across the street. But on Sunday I can go out to brunch with my girlfriend, get home just in time for opening kickoff, and plop on the couch with her for 8 straight hours of gladiatorial bliss. It is truly a day of rest for both of us, and it helps that we both love the game of football. This article is for those of you like me: a highly opinionated fan with an even more opinionated girlfriend. I thought it would be funny if she came out with a list of power rankings (CK) and a list of reasons why she likes the team. Any expert, who has been following the game for decades, can effectively dissect a team. I thought it would be interesting to see how an average fan ranked each team for the upcoming season. I added my analysis to offer you (BK), the reader, a baseline and an in-depth explanation of each power ranking.
CK: With my apologies, I am not well versed in every single team in the NFL. Being a Midwesterner, the NFC North is my strong suit, and I have a few favorites scattered throughout the NFC. The AFC might have existed in another universe if it weren’t for Peyton’s existence in it. This is a forewarning of my mild ignorance. This year, I will be embarking on my first Fantasy Football experience. I am hoping this will increase my player knowledge and awareness.
1) Denver Broncos
BK: The rich get richer. After losing Eric Decker to the Jets this offseason, the Broncos signed Emmanuel Sanders and drafted Cody Latimer to help sure up the already strong receiving core. They also brought in DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward, Aqib Talib, and Bradley Roby to help bolster their defense. The Broncos are once again the team to beat in the AFC.
CK: Peyton Manning, my second great football love – more on that later. He had a phenomenal season and a less that phenomenal Super Bowl appearance. Peyton is back with a vengeance. Can you say Legend and rap god?
2) Seattle Seahawks
BK: They are the defending Super Bowl champions for a good reason. With the “Legion of Boom” still intact after the offseason and Russell Wilson sure to take another step forward, the team seems more unbeatable than ever.
CK: They made an atrocity out of the Broncos last year. If there is one thing I know to be true, it is that karma is a bitch. Richard Sherman will be the karmic downfall of this team. He is a close second to Vick for Biggest Knob Head of the League. One does not disrespect Erin Andrews. Also, I may still be a little bitter that my own boyfriend would pronounce Sherman was far more intelligent than moi…
3) New England Patriots
BK: Tom Brady may have had a down year last season, but he still is Tom Brady. His receiving core may not be as strong as Peyton Manning’s, but this is a guy who turned Deon Branch into a Super Bowl MVP. He will be fine with a healthy Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, and Kenbrell Thompkins at his disposal.
CK: I have a weakness for QBs, but Tom Brady isn’t one of them. He thinks he is God’s gift to football – newsflash Tom: there are bigger, badder fish in the sea. When Peyton (swoon) is a better dancer than you, you may be doing something wrong. But I would watch the Patriots solely to watch Bill Belichick.
4) Green Bay Packers
BK: Aaron Rodgers’ injury stifled the Packers last season, and they somehow still managed to make the playoffs. The emergence of Eddie Lacy really helped the Packers maintain a balanced identity. With a full year of Rodgers and Randall Cobb, the Cheeseheads should be in the hunt for a Super Bowl berth.
CK: I really want to hate the Packers, and Aaron’s porno mustache. I simply cannot bring myself to hate the team that raised my first football love, Brett Favre, and is now home to the slightly creepy, yet somewhat endearing Aaron Rodgers. And Clay Matthews and AJ Hawk! The list goes on and I cannot help but love these Cheeseheads. And I do really love cheese…
5) Atlanta Falcons
BK: The Falcons experienced a lot of bad luck last season. Stephen Jackson, Julio Jones, Same Baker, Stephen Nicholson, and Kroy Biermann were injured for most or all of the 2013 football season. The previous year, they were one game away from the Super Bowl. I think season we will see more of the 2012 Falcons.
CK: Matt Ryan is kind of cute in that weird, awkward way. He may be my new Peyton Manning (swoon). Perhaps this season they’ll take the NFC South by storm, especially now that they have Devin Hester on their side.
6) San Francisco 49ers
BK: Colin Kaepernick looks to have the best receiving corp ever in his tenure as a 49ers QB. The team added Stevie Johnson to the already potent group that includes Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and Vernon Davis. This run-first offense finally looks ready to join the pass-heavy NFL.
CK: Colin Kaepernick’s story is so touching. The fact that he is a little bit psychic scores major points.
7) New Orleans Saints
BK: Drew Brees and the Saints offense have never had a problem moving the ball. The problem has always been the defense. After posting a 0 for turnover differential last season, the Saints brought in Jarius Byrd to help force more turnovers, and ultimately win games.
CK: Drew Brees is a really good quarterback. They’ve always seemed like one of those teams that really give it their all and tend to pull through since the 2006 season after Hurricane Katrina.
8) Indianapolis Colts
BK: Andrew Luck is ready to take the next step as a quarterback. With the addition of Hakeem Nicks and a healthy Reggie Wayne, the Colts have just enough weapons to make a Super Bowl run. There are a dark horse favorite to play in Phoenix come February.
CK: Andrew Luck will never be Peyton Manning. Also, beards are not for everyone. I might be in a little denial that Luck has an amazing amount of potential, but this season should be a good indicator of seasons to come.
9) Chicago Bears
BK: Last year was topsy-turvy for the Bears. The offense thrived under Marc Trestman, and the defense suffered on new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. This offseason the Bear’s rebuilt their defensive by adding veterans LaMarr Houston, Jared Allen, Willie Young, and Ryan Mundy, and rookies Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Kyle Fuller, and Brock Vereen. Hopefully the additions are enough to propel the Bears into the playoffs for the first time in three years.
CK: I don’t know why the Bear’s resigned Jay Cutler. They should have kept Josh McCown. Jay is clearly too busy wrangling the ever-crazy Kristin Cavallari. I do love Robbie Gould, though. My boyfriend always talks about how kickers have the luxury of being a little on the chunky side, Gould doesn’t fit that mold.
10) Philadelphia Eagles
BK: Chip Kelly’s offense took the league by storm last year and made Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy superstars. With DeSean Jackson on the Redskins this season, the Eagles will need to find a home run threat in order to build onto year two.
CK: The Birds! After reading Silver Linings Playbook, I always find myself rooting for the Birds. “E-A-G-L-E-S! EAGLES!”
11) San Diego Chargers
BK: Philip Rivers came back with a vengeance last year. After a subpar 2012 campaign, Rivers threw for almost 4,500 yards and 32 touchdowns last season. The offseason addition of Donald Brown and the continual growth of second-year wide receiver Keenan Allen will go a long ways into turning San Diego into a Super Bowl contender.
CK: Being a big fan of college football, specifically the Notre Dame football program, I had a soft spot in my heart for Manti Te’o. When the smoke and mirrors subsided and it came to light that the death of his terminally ill girlfriend was a hoax, I could not bring myself to forgive him. Sorry Chargers, Te’o is packing some karmic heat…
12) Kansas City Chiefs
BK: The Chiefs did not do anything to address their under achieving wide receiver corp, but with a team built around Jamaal Charles and an elite defense, the Chiefs should be able to compete for a wild card spot.
CK: Alex Smith may not be the cutest quarterback in the league, but I guess he’ll do. They also just drafted Aaron Murray, brother of Josh Murray, winner of The Bachelorette, season 10. He’s pretty cute, and definitely a rookie to watch.
13) Cincinnati Bengals
BK: Andy Dalton is now the 115 million dollar man, and that means he needs to perform in order to justify that contract. The addition of Jeremy Hill will help ease his offense burden and keep Giovani Bernard fresh. This year, the AFC North is the Bengals to lose.
CK: As much as I want to dislike AJ McCarron, he may have an amazing rookie career. Dalton may be the superior player, but McCarron is quite the dapper dresser.
14) St. Louis Rams
BK: If Sam Bradford is healthy, then this team should be fighting for a playoff spot. Their defense should be one of the most dominant this season. With a rebuilt offensive line, the team should be able to effectively run the ball and keep Sam Bradford upright on passing downs.
CK: Michael Sam is the most inspirational story in the NFL. The Rams totally have amazing karmic vibes headed their way.
15) Dallas Cowboys
BK: Tony Romo is an elite quarterback. However, the Cowboys have such a terrible defense that there is no way they could make the playoffs. They gave up the third most yards in NFL history last season. Until the defense improves, the Cowboys will be left out of the playoffs yet again.
CK: Have you ever disliked someone and not really had a good reason? I don’t like Tony Romo. Maybe it was his relationship with Jessica Simpson when I was secretly wishing for her and Nick to work things out. Some things we will just never know…
16) Pittsburgh Steelers
BK: The Pittsburgh Steelers look like a middle of the pack football team. On one hand, they have Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown leading the offense. On the other hand, they have an aging defense and had a negative four turnover differential. Expect more of the same from the team this year.
CK: Ben Roethlisberger has been packing on the lbs. Maybe he has been taste testing too much of the BBQ…
17) Washington Redskins
BK: With Robert Griffin III finally healthy this season, the Redskins should return to the team they were in 2012. DeSean Jackson and new head coach Jay Gruden should only help RGIII’s maturation as an NFL superstar.
CK: RGIII better keep it together this season. Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy couldn’t combine their skills to compare to RGIII. People with numbers after their name are automatically classy.
18) Miami Dolphins
BK: Ryan Tannehill took a step in the right direction last season, finishing tenth in the NFL in passing yards. The addition of Knowshon Moreno and the subtraction of the Richie Incognito/Jonathon Martin drama will surely be a boon for the team. They should surprise some people this year.
CK: Ryan Tannehill is pretty cute in uniform and/or any time he isn’t smiling. “Smile. Don’t smile.” Bring It On, anyone?
(Editor’s note: I do believe he chose to smile.)
19) Baltimore Ravens
BK: The return of Dennis Pitta will really help with a receiving corp that lacked a true threat between the hash marks. However, Joe Flacco is in a very similar situation to Eli Manning; if the running attack falters again this year, the Ravens will struggle to move the football and score points.
CK: I’m not sure how I feel about Joe Flacco as a quarterback. He did win the Superbowl two years ago, but he hasn’t done much since. Well, if his wedding photos are any indication, Flacco is ready to make that next big step.
20) Cleveland Browns
BK: If Josh Gordon’s yearlong suspension is reduced, then the Browns could be higher on this list. Even so, I believe that the team has a much improved running game lead by free agent acquisition Ben Tate and rookie Terrance West and a stellar defense highlighted by Joe Haden. They should cause some problems in the AFC North this season.
CK: Oh, Johnny Manziel. Cleveland loves those college football heartthrobs. He should be able to get a few wins single-handedly. But they are still Cleveland, and if history tells us anything it’s that Cleveland constantly fails to live up to the hype.
21) Detroit Lions
BK: Golden Tate and Eric Ebron are great pickups on the offensive side of the ball. However, the Lions failed to upgrade their defense and, more specifically, their secondary. In a passing league, you cannot survive without a dominant defensive backfield.
CK: Reggie Bush is a fantastic player despite his awful taste in women – see Kim Kardashian and KimK look alike Lilit Avagyan. He should take some life lessons from Megatron Johnson.
22) Arizona Cardinals
BK: With Darryl Washington injured and Karlos Dansby on the Browns, the Cardinals will be depending on Larry Foote and Kevin Minter to control the running game and lead the defense. They will not be up to the challenge.
CK: Carson Palmer is on the team. He is clearly looking to make a name for himself by reviving a less than successful franchise. But at 34, he may have a walker before he’ll have a super bowl ring.
23) Houston Texans
BK: Ryan Fitzpatrick is a huge question mark heading into this season. Is he a starting caliber quarterback, or his he just a very good backup capable of winning in short spells? Time will tell, but if he is the former, the Texans will look more like they did in 2012 when they finished the season 12-4.
CK: They drafted Jadeveon Clowney who hits really hard and is crazy on defense. Too bad about his last name…and that the Texans can’t play him on offense.
24) New York Giants
BK: The running game is key for the Giants’ success. If Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams have successful seasons, Eli Manning will return to form. But, if the team struggles to run the ball like it did last year, then expect more of the same from last year.
CK: When will Eli Manning win another Super Bowl? He is no Peyton, but get this man some blocking! If he ever needs company while drowning his sorrows in Oreos, call me maybe?
25) Carolina Panthers
BK: Cam Newton is on the cusp of stardom, but who is he going to throw the ball to? Kelvin Benjamin is a rookie, Jason Avant has been inconsistent, and Jerrico Cotchery is not a go-to wide receiver. Newton seems better off throwing the ball to himself.
CK: Oh, Cam Newton, if only you could spread your charming looks around. Starting offensive line just isn’t cutting it for me.
26) Oakland Raiders
BK: Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, and James Jones may make the offense more respectable, but the losses on the offensive and defensive line may be too much to overcome.
CK: For as long as I can remember, the Raiders have been terrible. Even Carson Palmer gave up on them. I would absolutely hate to live in Oakland. It is like the Detroit of the West Coast.
27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
BK: Josh McCown can’t possibly repeat his stellar numbers from last season, and the jury is still out on Mike Glennon. The Bucs have a healthy Doug Martin, but under Lovie Smith I believe this team takes a step back before it takes a step forward.
CK: Too bad the Bears traded Josh McCown. Tampa Bay ain’t quite it used to be. Maybe some throwback uniforms will throw them back to 2002.
28) Tennessee Titans
BK: No Chris Johnson, no Kenny Britt, no proven backup for Jake Locker; the Titans look ready for another mediocre season.
CK: Remember the Titans? Not this season. Perhaps they should draft Ryan Gosling.
29) Buffalo Bills
BK: E.J. Manuel is essentially a rookie this year. C.J. Spiller regressed last, Sammy Watkins is unproven, and who is their defense going to stop? Fred Jackson has being the only constant on this offense, but at 33 years old, how long can he counted on to produce?
CK: Buffalo Bill Cody – Wild West takes New York? Not sure how that would go over at Fashion Week.
30) Minnesota Vikings
BK: Teddy Bridgewater needs to start. Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel are absolutely terrible. Adrian Peterson is expected to carry the offense once again.
CK: Adrian Peterson is kind of a badass. If only Matt Cassel were Brett Favre…
(Editor’s note: They don’t call him “Purple Jesus” for nothing.)
31) New York Jets
BK: Michael Vick might be washed out, and Geno Smith needs to cut down on the turnovers (25 last season) in order to develop into a starting-caliber quarterback. It looks like another subpar season for Gang Green this year.
CK: The Jets are the naturally inferior New York squad. Favre had a less than spectacular season there and Michael Vick is on the team. Talk about a karmic slap in the face! Remind me again why they let him out of prison…?
32) Jacksonville Jaguars
BK: With two rookie wide receivers and no Maurice Jones-Drew, Chad Henne has his work cut out for him. I do like the Toby Gerhart pick up though. He runs hard and should be fresher then MJD was the past few years.
CK: Perhaps shoot to win 6 games this season? That’s really the only advice I have. Cute logo btw.
(DISCLAIMER: This is not the real Jaguars team logo. However, given the current state of the team, it does suit them better.)