Oakland Raiders (4-12) - Previously: 32.
Comparing the rosters of the 2013 Raiders and 2008 Lions, I've determined that the former is much, much worse. If the two teams played, I feel like Detroit would win by double digits. Indeed, the 2013 Raiders might just become the first team to go 0-17. There's no way they're going to beat their own bye.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) - Previously: 31.
Jacksonville's new coaching staff is doing a phenomenal job with Blaine Gabbert. The skittish quarterback is now keeping his eyes open on 25 percent of his throws! It only used to be 10 percent, but Gus Bradley has given Gabbert some much-needed confidence.
New York Jets (6-10) - Previously: 29.
Have you guys seen Mark Sanchez's new hairstyle?
That's a little... umm... heterosexually challenged, to be politically correct. It's amazing how Sanchez's encounter with Brandon Moore's buttocks completely changed his sexual lifestyle. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
San Diego Chargers (7-9) - Previously: 26.
What I wrote before still applies:
How were the Chargers 7-9 last year? It felt like they were 4-12. I'm just haunted by that Ray Rice 4th-and-29 bogus conversion that cost me hundreds of dollars. I'm still losing sleep over that.
It's very likely the Chargers will actually be 4-12 this time around. They have no healthy receivers, while the offensive line is still in shambles.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) - Previously: 22.
The Buccaneers have a ton of internal issues that I can't get into. They also have some well-publicized ones, like the staph infection that's going around.
How did this thing spread anyway? Well, the Mayo Clinic might have our answer: "Because staph bacteria are so hardy, they can live on inanimate objects such as pillowcases or towels long enough to transfer to the next person who touches them."
Ah, so it turns out that the Buccaneer players are sharing pillowcases and towels. Perhaps they should trade for Mark Sanchez because he'd fit right in.
Buffalo Bills (6-10) - Previously: 30.
E.J. Manuel's poise in the pocket during his two preseason games convinced me that the Bills will be competitive in most of their games this year. Buffalo fans have to be thrilled about this because having Kevin Kolb as the starter would be disastrous. All opposing defenses would need to do is put a wet mat on the field, and the Bills would be done for.
Tennessee Titans (6-10) - Previously: 27.
The Titans will be able to run the ball well with Chance Warmack blasting open big holes for Chris Johnson. There's just one problem: The NFL is a passing league. Jake Locker will have to be consistent for a change. With Kenny Britt sucking and Kendall Wright being injured, I don't have much faith that Locker can succeed.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) - Previously: 25.
For those excited about the Eagles because the look so great offensively this preseason, remember the 2002 Redskins, who scored 35 or more points in four out of their five exhibition contests under Steve Spurrier. Washington flopped under Spurrier, so the same thing could easily happen to Philadelphia.
I'm still sticking with my prediction that Chip Kelly will be the head coach of USC by 2015.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) - Previously: 23.
Let's pretend I'm ESPN for a second. "OMG CHIEFS R GUNNA BE SO GOOD THEY HAVE ANDY REEID AND ALEX SMITH THEY ARE LIEK SO AWESOME OMG GUYS!" The worldwide leader, everyone.
The Chiefs will be competitive this season, but they're not going anywhere with this unbelievably overrated Reid-Smith combo. Reid hasn't done anything since Jim Johnson passed away, while Smith needed the top defense in the NFL to carry him to the NFC Championship, where he converted only one third down.
Arizona Cardinals (5-11) - Previously: 24.
Peter King said that he's thinking about picking the Cardinals to reach the playoffs despite being the worst team in their division. It could happen, but I've seen too much of Carson Palmer and his struggles in the red zone over the past few seasons to know that it's an unlikely scenario. Still, Arizona will be very competitive for a change. Battling the Seahawks and 49ers twice each could prove to be too much though.
Detroit Lions (4-12) - Previously: 21.
The Lions committed three personal-foul penalties in just one half of action against the Patriots in the third preseason game. They have tons of talent, but zero discipline, and it's going to cost them several victories this season. They should fire Jim Schwartz and bring in someone like Bill Parcells, Marty Schottenheimer or perhaps even this guy.
Dallas Cowboys (8-8) - Previously: 20.
It's great to know that some things don't change. The Cowboys looked awesome in between the 20s in their preseason games thus far, but they always manage to screw up whenever they reach the red zone. It might be a turnover or a holding penalty or a wasted timeout or a missed field goal or a dropped pass, but the one constant is that they'll shoot themselves in the foot somehow.
Cleveland Browns (5-11) - Previously: 28.
Bold semi-prediction: The Browns may make the playoffs in 2013.
There, I said it. And no, I'm not on drugs. Well, technically I am because I'm drinking codeine to alleviate this nagging cough I have, but I think the Browns could enjoy a season like the Chiefs had in 2010 because they have great coaching and a solid defense. The AFC sucks, so Cleveland should be in the mix for a playoff spot.
Carolina Panthers (7-9) - Previously: 18.
Cam Newton had a dreadful preseason. I took part in a rare conversation on Twitter (@walterfootball) last Friday where Rob Stanton of SeahawksDraftBlog.com asked whether he should be worried about Cam Newton. Evan Silva of Rotoworld pointed out that Newton struggled last August but had a great season. This is true, but Newton began the 2013 season sluggishly and was lucky enough to have Rob Chudzinski take care of the problems. Chud's not around anymore, so this could be a big issue.
Fortunately for the Panthers, they have a truly dominant front seven with Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short looking like very promising defensive tackles. Luke Kuechly, meanwhile, will be an All-Pro this season if he stays healthy.
Miami Dolphins (7-9) - Previously: 13.
No one has been more critical of Miami's free agency spending spree like I have. Jeff Ireland sacrificed the future by overpaying bums like Mike Wallace and players at low-impact positions like Dannell Ellerbe. And it's not like he shored up the present either. He let Jake Long go, which crippled the offensive line. Miami endured major issues trying to block for Ryan Tannehill this preseason. Why didn't the Dolphins just trade for Branden Albert?
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) - Previously: 17.
The Steelers can't block. Their rookie running back looks like he'll be a bust. And if Ben Roethlisberger misses some action this year, Pittsburgh won't be able to turn to a reliable veteran like Charlie Batch. All the team has in reserve is Bruce "The Polish Point-Shaver" Gradkowski and Landry Jones, who might just be the worst quarterback in the NFL.
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) - Previously: 16.
The Vikings selected three first-rounders in the 2013 NFL Draft, so they have to be better than they were last year, right? Well, I'm not so sure. Adrian Peterson, who once again should be outstanding, can't possibly match what he did in 2012. Antoine Winfield is gone, and who knows if Xavier Rhodes will be ready to replace him? And then there's Christian Ponder, who is not going to magically improve because he has Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings at his disposal.
Having said all of that, Minnesota is not nearly as bad as some make them out to be. The Lions are somehow four-point favorites over the Vikings in Week 1. I think that's absolutely insane.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) - Previously: 15.
Andy Dalton's record against non-playoff teams: 17-4
Andy Dalton's record against playoff teams: 1-11
Maybe Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard will help. The Bengals scored just 23 total points in their two recent playoff games, so Dalton needs all the assistance he can get.
Chicago Bears (10-6) - Previously: 12.
I really have to question the Bears' decision not to lock up any of the players entering their contract season, including Jay Cutler. If they want to keep most of these players, they're going to have a major headache to deal with next spring. On the bright side, it seems like Canadian Marc Trestman has finally learned that the NFL has four downs instead of three.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) - Previously: 19.
The Colts are the popular pick to regress this season, but I don't think it's going to happen under Andrew Luck. He's just too good. In fact, Luck is so talented that he has transformed Darrius Heyward-Bey into a capable receiver. I can almost hear Al Davis muttering this from another plane, "Darrius... Heywahd-Bey... is a... great... playa..."
St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) - Previously: 11.
What I wrote prior to free agency:
The Rams quietly were pretty awesome down the stretch. Beginning in Week 12, they finished 4-2. They beat the 49ers (and tied them in Week 10) and nearly took down the red-hot Seahawks on the road at the very end. Their other loss came against the Vikings in a game in which Adrian Peterson went nuts. If St. Louis can fix its offensive line, it can become a big sleeper in 2013.
Well, St. Louis signed Jake Long and drafted Barrett Jones. They also added stud slot receiver Tavon Austin. This team is going to be very dangerous in 2013 as long as Sam Bradford doesn't totally suck. Bradford has been pretty decent in the preseason and seems to have good chemistry with Austin and Chris Givens. So far, so good.
Houston Texans (12-4) - Previously: 10.
Arian Foster has completely worn down. He has barely practiced this offseason because he has back-related pain in his legs. Additionally, his YPC has declined severely recently. The biased media won't say anything about it, but does anyone get the feeling that Foster's vegan lifestyle is responsible for this? As you may know, vegans are soulless monsters who use the excuse of not eating animals to terrorize plants. Poor plants just like to hang out and absorb the sun, but these a**hole vegans ruin their good time. Vegans also worship Satan, so all of this may explain Foster's struggles.
New York Giants (9-7) - Previously: 9.
The NFL Draft is a funny process. Damontre Moore was the consensus No. 2 overall pick in most mock drafts until he ran a super-slow 40 time at the Combine. He ultimately dropped into the third round for some reason. Lo and behold, Moore was dominant in the preseason. It's too bad he'll never emerge as a great player because of that slow 40!
The Giants have a great pass rush this year, but I'm concerned about the health of their receivers as well as the state of their offensive line. Both David Baas and David Diehl have suffered injuries recently; the latter will force natural guard (and rookie) Justin Pugh into an unnatural position.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6) - Previously: 7.
The Ravens lost so many defensive players, but their stop unit has been the strongest group of theirs this preseason. It's been the offense that has sputtered - though that shouldn't be a surprise, given that Joe Flacco had to throw to geriatric targets like Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark, or complete bums like Visanthe Shiancoe and Tandon Doss. Flacco, Torrey Smith and Ray Rice can only do so much.
Atlanta Falcons (13-3) - Previously: 8.
Atlanta lost John Abraham, Dunta Robinson, Tyson Clabo, Todd McClure and Brent Grimes this offseason. They'll be worse in 2013, but they won't take a big step down or anything because Steven Jackson will add an element to their offense that hasn't been there in a few years. I'm also a big fan of the Falcons' draft class. Oh, and Matt Ryan is still under center, the last I checked. No quarterback is better at bailing out his team and pulling wins out of his a** than Ryan.
Washington Redskins (10-6) - Previously: 14.
Robert Griffin will play in the season opener. Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, suffered an injury in the team's second preseason game. I suppose it's only a matter of time before Cousins and Mike Shanahan are at odds with each other. I guess it's a good thing Washington drafted Griffin as insurance for Cousins. And people called the Griffin selection a dumb pick. Idiots!
Green Bay Packers (11-5) - Previously: 5.
Every NFC North team's reaction during the second day of the NFL Draft: "Aaron Rodgers now has a running game!? Ah f***!" Eddie Lacy looks like the real deal.
I was concerned about the left tackle situation when Bryan Bulaga went down, but David Bakhtiari held his own in the preseason.
New Orleans Saints (7-9) - Previously: 6.
The Saints have to be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl. I was already high on them heading into the season - I picked them to win the NFC South - but Drew Brees and the other players just seem to be on a mission. I think they realized that they took football success for granted when Sean Payton was out of the lineup last year.
Denver Broncos (13-3) - Previously: 3.
The Broncos were my No. 3 team in my previous update, but they've suffered way too many injuries and suspensions. Von Miller, J.D. Walton, Champ Bailey and perhaps Derek Wolfe will all be missing in the season opener. Speaking of Miller, what's with the fake sample he tried to provide the league? What an idiot. He's arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, and he's THIS close to throwing his career away. Someone needs to tell him to stop being a moron.
New England Patriots (12-4) - Previously: 4.
Like Drew Brees, Tom Brady seems like he's on a mission. I think he's super pissed off that everyone counted him and his team out when he lost Wes Welker and both of his tight ends. In fact, Brady is so angry that he apparently told his wife to quit forcing him to get Justin Bieber lesbian haircuts. Brady now has a normal haircut for the first time in years.
San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) - Previously: 2.
With Percy Harvin out for the Seahawks, it was close to a toss-up as to which team would be No. 1 in these power rankings. Solid cases can be made for both squads, but there's a chance the 49ers will have a Super Bowl hangover, which is something that has plagued many teams over the years.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) - Previously: 1.
I had the Seahawks as my No. 1 team before they acquired Percy Harvin, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. So, with that in mind, Harvin's injury shouldn't drop them out of first place.
Unfortunately, Roger Goodell dicked over Seattle once again. Just check out what I wrote last time:
The Seahawks were the best team in the NFL this past season. The 49ers and Ravens are both pretty fortunate Roger Goodell screwed Seattle over by making them play a 1 p.m. game on the East Coast. Matvei, who used to handle the sharps' picks page of this Web site, sent me a text about it back in January:
These last two games are a great argument for no early starts for West teams. Seattle starts at 10, is asleep for 2.5 quarters, loses. Niners start at noon, sleep for the first quarter and a half, but eke out a win because the Falcons follow what would've been the worst blown playoff lead of all time with the third-worst. Their
leads seem an obvious product of the damn time zones.
OK, so what happened since? The NFL schedule was released, and the Seahawks were scheduled five 1 p.m. games on the East Coast! I'm not even a Seattle fan, but Goodell is a major douche. Why not slate those contests at 4 p.m.? Is it really that difficult?