Power Rankings: The Top Five Teams In The NFL Heading Into 2014

by Michael Drahota | Posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2014 | 0

With the third week of the NFL preseason set to kick off tonight (Thurs., August 21, 2014) when the Pittsburgh Steelers travel across the state to take on the Philadelphia Eagles, the 2014 NFL season is nearly ready to grace our television screens.

As with any year, there have been many offseason changes that will lead to a decent amount of parity this year, but the elite teams have largely stayed the course since 2013 closed.

The top teams bring back many of the starters that won them the success they enjoyed last year, and they may have even added new pieces to improve their teams.

With the rich poised to get richer in 2014, let’s take a look at the top five teams in the NFL as it currently stands:

1.) Seattle Seahawks:

The 2013 Super Bowl champion Seahawks are set to make another run at the Lombardi Trophy in 2014. They return all principle units from last year’s championship squad, and they should het star wideout Percy Harvin back at close to full strength (although who knows for how long).

They also gave pounding running back Marshawn Lynch a raise to keep him happy before training camp, and even though “The Beast” may be slowing down due to his sheer amount of work the past few seasons, the ‘Hawks still have two quality backup rushers in Christine Michael and Robert Turbin.

Add that to their game managing quarterback Wilson and the best defense in the league that features shutdown secondary members Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, and Seattle is undoubtedly the team to beat right now.

Tennessee Titans v Denver Broncos
2.) Denver Broncos:

Denver comes in a distant second after losing handily to Seattle in the Super Bowl. Their offense is no doubt the best in the league on paper, but they failed to come out strong when it mattered most.

Peyton Manning broke all the most important passing records last year, and while it would be impossible to expect the same type of performance from him this year, he could definitely get close. With dangerous wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, athletic tight end Julius Thomas, and a potential breakout candidate in running back Montee Ball, the Broncos are locked and loaded for 2014.

They even shored up their defense by adding high-profile names in pass rusher DeMarcus Ware and cornerback Aqib Talib. Linebacker Von Miller will also be back in the mix this season, making the Broncos much more of a complete team.

With their defense gaining ground on their already explosive offense, the Broncos could challenge for the title yet again.

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick
3.) New England Patriots:

New England is a perennial contender under the direction of head coach Bill Belichick. The pieces seem to change every year for them in Belichick’s chess game, but as long as he has future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady at the helm, the Pats can never be counted out.

Denver handed them a lopsided los in the AFC Championship game last year, but New England was playing without several of their star players.

All-world tight end Rob Gronkowski had torn his ACL, but is planning on playing all 16 games this year. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo will also be back from injuries.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that New England is playing in a division full of lackluster quarterbacks in the AFC East. If Brady and Belichick can get some more production out of their inexperienced wide receivers and questionable running backs, another Super Bowl appearance shouldn’t be out of the question for this longtime juggernaut.

4.) New Orleans Saints:

The Saints return many principal players from last year’s playoff team, but they have some work to do to truly rise to the next level. Quarterback Drew Brees will always light up the stat sheets, as he’s the only player in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards in four seasons.

He’ll definitely flirt with that number once again this year, and with newly re-signed tight end Jimmy Graham as his main offensive weapon, he’ll probably get there.

The Saints will have some competition in the improving NFC South, but when teams come to play them in the Louisiana Superdome, watch out.

They’re nearly unstoppable there, and Brees can keep the =m in any game. Their running game could be a question mark this year, as could their inconsistent defense.

But with Sean Payton calling the plays and Brees executing them, many mistakes can be overlooked. Still, the Saints will need to become more complete to win playoff games, especially with the grinding Carolina Panthers nipping at their heels.

5.) San Francisco 49ers:

With three straight NFC Championship game appearances, the 49ers are understandably near the top of NFL power rankings everywhere. They’ll bring back wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who was sidelined by an Achilles’ injury for most of last year, and hopefully star quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be healed from the nagging injuries that plagued him in 2013.

But the Niners’ bread and butter will always be the run games and their solid defense.

In terms of running the ball, San Francisco is stacked to the brim with quality backs in Frank Gore, Carlos Hyde, LaMichael James, and Marcus Lattimore. They should be able to pound the ball and control the clock when on offense.

Their defense, however, is another story. With star linebacker NaVorro Bowman out for at least half of the season, tackle Glen Dorsey out for the year, and safety Antoine Bethea nursing a concussion, the Niners’ defensive unit is currently in trouble. Add in the pending suspension of star pass rusher Aldon Smith, and you have a mess in Northern California.

The potential for another big season is there, but this team still has a lot to prove.

About the Author

Both an avid NFL fan and analyst, I’ve been following professional football since the late 1980s. I’m also an avid fantasy football player with several league victories under my belt. Check out my NFL articles on TSM for the latest NFL news, highlights, predictions, and more.

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