Folks, it’s football season and Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season has, perhaps, more hype than expected in recent years.
Big name defenders like Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher retired, while legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez rejoined the Atlanta Falcons in the hopes of a Cinderella finish. Unfinished business also resides with Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.
Each fell in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, but have upgraded on each side of the ball to increase Super Bowl expectations. The San Francisco 49ers return to defend their NFC crown, but the rest of the NFC will be chomping at the bit to knock off the Bay Area.
On the other hand, the Baltimore Ravens feature new defensive faces with Ed Reed also moving to the Houston Texans. Given how much occurred during free agency and the draft, this season sets up numerous seasoned veterans with even better opportunities to compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
As for who currently leads the charge, let’s take a glimpse at Week 1’s power rankings.
1. Seattle Seahawks
Most complete team on both side of the ball right now.
2. Atlanta Falcons
High powered offense with a defense that will generate turnovers.
3. Denver Broncos
Even without Von Miller the Broncos still field a sound defense. Not to mention an upgraded offense.
4. Houston Texans
Definitely OK to call Houston 3B, because the Texans feature a better ground game than the Broncos.
5. San Francisco 49ers
Provided they limit giving up big plays, the defense will sustain while the offense rolls.
6. Green Bay Packers
How will the Packers defense looks without Charles Woodson? The offense is fine, but the cheese heads still need to slow opponents down.
7. Baltimore Ravens
New faces on defense won’t prevent the Ravens from challenging in the AFC. And the offense remains balanced.
8. Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati has legit Super Bowl potential. The question is whether Andy Dalton hits another level.
9. New England Patriots
As long as Tom Brady resides under center you can never count out the Patriots.
10. Indianapolis Colts
Sleeper Super Bowl contender. Indianapolis has a better defense and sound offense to control the game tempo.
11. Washington Redskins
The offense will score, but will the Redskins lock it down defensively? Brian Orakpo’s return will be telling.
12. Chicago Bears
The weapons are around Jay Cutler including an improved offensive line. He is now the key to Chicago’s 2013 success.
13. St. Louis Rams
Much like Cutler in Chicago, the Rams have done the same for Sam Bradford. Will the signal-caller up his game?
14. Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson proved he can carry Minnesota to the postseason. Now it’s time to see if Christian Ponder develops to inflate this offense.
15. Kansas City Chiefs
K.C. has a chance to compete for the playoffs. As long as Jamaal Charles replicates 2012, Alex Smith will provide hope via the air.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fielding the last ranked pass defense cost Tampa Bay in a pass-heavy division. The impact of Revis Island will determine the Bucs’ season.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo will only take Dallas so far. He needs help from a ground game that was unreliable last season.
18. New Orleans Saints
Another potential playoff contender, Drew Brees will get NOLA in the end zone. It’s the defense that must step up.
19. New York Giants
Will Eli Manning lead the Giants to another improbable run? The offensive line is banged up and the running backs are unproven.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger remains a reliable quarterback. The concern is whether a receiver steps in and manages to take over for the departure of Mike Wallace.
21. Miami Dolphins
Miami has to find its identity on each side of the ball. Without a ground game or consistently dominant defense, the Dolphins will struggle to reach January.
22. Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson has help in Reggie Bush. Now let’s see if this defense will come to life.
23. Carolina Panthers
Carolina is unfortunately in an offense-strong division. And this offense must find a way to keep its own defense off the field.
24. Philadelphia Eagles
How will the philosophy of Chip Kelly impact the Eagles? Lane Johnson is the right lineman to work with, but only Michael Vick’s athleticism suits well at quarterback and he’s 33 years old.
25. Tennessee Titans
It’s time for Jake Locker to live up to his No. 8 overall draft status. Tennessee can’t solely feed Chris Johnson as the AFC elites remain defensively stout.
26. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo has the talent on each side to make some noise in 2013. The challenge is getting over the New England obstacle within the division.
27. Cleveland Browns
New head coach and coordinators in Cleveland. That said, will it be the same old Browns?
28. San Diego Chargers
Either Philip Rivers has to find his former self and dice up defenses or Ryan Mathews needs to emerge as a franchise back.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
With plenty of explosive talent on offense Jacksonville must score some points. Because the defense needs to prove itself, otherwise 2013 will be disappointing.
30. Arizona Cardinals
Unless this defense manages to score consistently Arizona is in for a long season. The offense won’t instantly flip after 2012’s abysmal campaign.
31. Oakland Raiders
Some talent exists on the defense, however, Oakland’s offense has too many questions.
32. New York Jets
No star talent on either side with unproven youngsters hoping to make a name. Gang Green sits at rock bottom.
Follow John on Twitter @Rozum27