2013 NFL Power Rankings

My pre-free agency 2013 NFL Power Rankings.

I’m going to eventually use these rankings as the order for my 2014 NFL Mock Draft updates. Follow @walterfootball.

I’ve gone from WORST to FIRST, so if you don’t see reverse numbering (via Javascript), don’t worry; the Rams, Buccaneers and Jaguars aren’t my top teams.

Updated: 3/24

  1. Oakland Raiders (4-12) – Previously: 30.
    The Raiders are a mess. They have tons of needs and no cap room to fill them. They’ll cut players and watch free agents walk – including this class act:

    Oakland would probably be best served dumping Carson Palmer and rebuilding from scratch; by the time the Raiders have talent on its roster, Palmer (34 in December) will be way too old.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Raiders spent most of free agency signing mediocre players, save for Miami’s Kevin Burnett. Oakland is in complete rebuilding mode and will consider dumping Palmer in favor of Geno Smith. Both Adam Schefter and Chris Mortsensen suggested that Smith is in play, as you can see in the 2013 NFL Draft Rumors page.

  2. New York Jets (6-10) – Previously: 32.
    You know how NFL Network sometimes has a graphic scrolling near the bottom with needs for each team? It might as well list the positions the Jets don’t need to address. It’s bad. New York has to find help at quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end, tackle, guard, rush linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback (if Darrelle Revis is traded) and safety.

    The Jets are the worst team in the NFL, and I can’t see them improving anytime soon. On the bright side, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Football could both be entering the 2014 NFL Draft.

    2013 Free Agency Update: I liked the Willie Colon and Antwan Barnes signings, so this new regime looks promising. Unfortunately, the Jets lost tons of key veterans, as expected. They’re easily one of the three worst teams in the NFL right now.

  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) – Previously: 31.
    The good news: The Jaguars fired Gene Smith, who traded up for Blaine Gabbert and used a third-round pick on a punter.

    The bad news: New general David Caldwell believes in building around Gabbert.

    Well, at least the Jaguars have a nifty new logo.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Jaguars weren’t too active in free agency, as their only major signing was Roy Miller, who will just replace Terrance Knighton. They’ll once again be miserable without a quarterback in 2013.

  4. Tennessee Titans (6-10) – Previously: 29.
    Chris Johnson recently blamed his poor performance on his offensive line. “What a lot of people don’t understand, I was playing with an offensive line that only had one starter,” Johnson said. “I had four offensive linemen hurt. I felt like I did good with the situation I was dealt.”

    Oh yeah, CJ1K, your struggles had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you danced in the backfield quite frequently. Way to be accountable.

    CJ1K’s regression and Jake Locker’s terrible inconsistency is why I believe the Titans are one of the worst teams in the NFL.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Andy Levitre is a big boost to the offensive line, but the Titans spent way too much money on non-starters. They’re not much better.

  5. San Diego Chargers (7-9) – Previously: 28.
    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.

    San Diego is a mess right now. The offensive line needs four upgrades, while Philip Rivers’ arm looks like it’s about to fall off.

    2013 Free Agency Update: San Diego’s offensive line is now worse than it was at the end of the 2012 season. I don’t know how that’s even possible.

  6. Arizona Cardinals (5-11) – Previously: 26.
    Football pisses me off sometimes. Remember when the Cardinals beat the Patriots in Week 2? What was that about? Why did the most random result ever have to knock me out of my survivor pool. Blegh.

    I don’t know if I can take the Cardinals seriously with all of these Matt Barkley/Matt Cassel rumors floating around. Hasn’t Arizona suffered enough already with one noodle-armed USC Hollywood quarterback?

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Cardinals signed a bunch of middling players for cheap contracts in free agency, but they didn’t make any big improvements to their roster. In fact, they may have gotten worse by cutting Kerry Rhodes.

  7. Buffalo Bills (6-10) – Previously: 25.
    The Bills haven’t been in the playoffs since 1999 – the longest drought in the NFL. It feels like 1899. This team hasn’t had a franchise quarterback in forever, so they might as well take a shot with Geno Smith. With the current CBA, they can just try again two years later if Smith sucks.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Only two moves of note – the Bills lost Andy Levitre to the Titans and signed Manny Lawson. The loss is definitely more significant than the gain, as Levtire’s departure opens up another hole on the roster.

  8. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) – Previously: 24.
    So, the Alex Smith trade happened. Click the link to see my grade for it. It’s not good.

    The Chiefs have lots of talent on their roster, so as long as Smith doesn’t completely regress now that he’s without Jim Harbaugh, Kansas City will be competitive and win some games. The problem is that the team will have enough victories to take them out of the running for all of the talented quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Chiefs will be stuck in mediocrity for a while – which is something their fans are very familiar with.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Chiefs overpaid for two defensive backs, Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, but they will be better in the secondary. Unfortunately, they still have a big issue at quarterback, so none of this really matters.

  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) – Previously: 20.
    I still love this e-mail I received from an angry Bucs’ fan e-mailer during the season:

    Tampa Bay’s so damn hard to gauge because Josh Freeman is so maddeningly inconsistent. Fixing the secondary would really help.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Buccaneers overpaid for Dashon Goldson. They also lost tons of key veterans like Michael Bennett and Roy Miller.

  10. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) – Previously: 27.
    The Eagles are having a great offseason. So far, they have…

    – Hired a head coach with no previous NFL affiliation.

    – Moved to a 3-4 defense despite barely having any 3-4 personnel.

    – Brought in a bunch of former coaches from the Cleveland Browns, who haven’t been in the playoffs since 2002.

    – Retained a regressing, turnover-machine quarterback.

    – Overplayed their hand and failed to trade Nick Foles to Andy Reid.

    Other than that, things are going well in Philly.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Eagles made some quality signings in free agency, and they’re a better team because of it. The best acquisition was Kenny Phillips for only one year. Philadelphia robbed the rival Giants of a key defensive back and did so cheaply. Of course, the Eagles were only returning the favor because New York did the same with Cullen Jenkins.

  11. Cleveland Browns (5-11) – Previously: 23.
    If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you’ll appreciate this “House Browns” summary from forum member JohnnyAllstar:

    House Browns:

    A house noted for it’s frequent turmoil, it is amazing how they manage to exist amidst their own failure. The Lord of the North Shore changes frequently, as the few locals vie for the top of a discrepant hellhole. Other houses frequently raid the Lady of the Lake’s menial treasures, but the land is renowned as being cursed, so they are never fully conquered, only plundered.

    The Motto of our House: Waiting For Next Year.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Browns probably upgraded their front seven by signing Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant. However, as the only team in the division without a franchise quarterback, they’ll be stuck in the AFC North cellar until they get one.

  12. Detroit Lions (4-12) – Previously: 22.
    The Lions have way too much talent to go 4-12. Whenever a team underachieves like this, you have to look at the head coach. Jim Schwartz probably should have been fired. This has to be his last year if things don’t improve.

    By the way, this blunder epitomizes everything that’s wrong with the Lions. As always, they look good, but their execution sucks.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Detroit’s secondary will be better with Glover Quin being added to the roster, and both Louis Delmas and Chris Houston coming back. Signing Reggie Bush and Jason Jones was also nice, but losing Cliff Avril will hurt, especially considering how little Seattle gave him. The Lions should have been able to retain him.

  13. Dallas Cowboys (8-8) – Previously: 21.
    Great in November, crappy in December, coaches do something stupid, Tony Romo struggles in biggest game, blah blah blah…

    2013 Free Agency Update: Dallas didn’t have money to do anything, but at least it retained Anthony Spencer.

  14. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) – Previously: 15.
    Joe Flacco will be around for a long time, but the Ravens will probably lose Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin and several others in addition to Ray Lewis this offseason. This will be the first time in recent memory that the defending Super Bowl champion won’t be one of the favorites the following year.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Ravens have lost Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, Anquan Boldin and Bryant McKinnie this spring. They obviously won’t be nearly as competitive next season, but they will have a better defensive line with Chris Canty and Marcus Spears joining Haloti Ngata.

  15. Carolina Panthers (7-9) – Previously: 19.
    The Panthers were awesome down the stretch, but if I were a fan of the team, I’d be concerned about how Cam Newton will play in the wake of losing offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski to the Browns. The Chud was instrumental in his quarterback’s development during the second half of this past season, and Newton doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would react well to change like this.

    If Carolina gets off to a slow start, Newton could sullenly hold another press conference and get more people fired. Hopefully one guy who doesn’t get axed is head coach Commander Adama. So say we all.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Panthers haven’t really done anything in free agency aside from signing Ted Ginn. Unfortunately, they had to part ways with Chris Gamble, thanks to former general manager Marty Hurney’s idiotic spending.

  16. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Previously: 17.
    The Colts went on a magical ride last season, but things will be much more difficult in 2013. Bruce Arians is gone, the schedule will be tougher by default, and there won’t be any crazy Chuckstrong momentum going. Andrew Luck will have to take a big leap forward and avoid turnovers (23 give-aways compared to 23 passing touchdowns) to help Indianapolis reach the playoffs again.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Colts improved their roster by signing a bunch of players, but not substantially. That’s unfortunate, given the ridiculous amount of money they spent for their new “talent.”

  17. Washington Redskins (10-6) – Previously: 18.
    It’s difficult to rank the Redskins because it’s unclear if Robert Griffin will be ready to play come September. On the bright side, Washington is apparently trying to get its field fixed. I saw a blurb somewhere that someone or something called Grass Master is involved. That sounds eerily similar to Wall Masters, giant hands that would come out of the walls and terrorize you in the Legend of Zelda. No wonder Griffin got hurt.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Redskins didn’t have any money, so all they could do was soften the blow of cutting DeAngelo Hall by signing E.J. Biggers.

  18. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) – Previously: 14.
    I lost a quite a bit of money on the Steelers in 2012 because I constantly bet them like a fool. If only I listened to what I wrote this time last year in my power rankings:

    Something’s seriously wrong in Pittsburgh. Owner Art Rooney II is saying that Mike Tomlin wanted Todd Haley. Tomlin is saying that Haley was Rooney’s idea. Big Ben’s pissed off. Haley, meanwhile, will spend most of his times checking for bugs and microphones in his office. Add in the fact that some players will have to be released to get under the cap, and the Steelers could very easily slide down the standings in 2012.

    Things aren’t much better now. The team is pressed against the cap and will lose some veterans this offseason. On the bright side, the Ravens won’t be as good without Ray Lewis and possibly Anquan Boldin and Ed Reed.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Free agency? Ha! The Steelers scoff at this.

  19. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) – Previously: 11.
    Christian Ponder can really suck sometimes, but he at least won’t have to look over his shoulder and worry about Joe Webb anymore – not after that playoff performance. Unfortunately, Ponder will still probably be too banged up from his bruised vag to lead the Vikings deep into the postseason this upcoming year.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Greg Jennings chose money over career success by taking a big contract and running to the Christian Ponder-quarterbacked Vikings. I have a feeling that both sides will regret this move.

  20. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – Previously: 12.
    Andy Dalton’s record against non-playoff teams: 17-4
    Andy Dalton’s record against playoff teams: 1-11

    This is depressing, as it gives ammo to those who say that gingers can’t be successful against elite NFL competition.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Bengals had money to spend, but didn’t get anyone. What they did manage to do was retain many of their players. Unfortunately, Andre Smith was not one of them (as of this writing).

  21. Miami Dolphins (7-9) – Previously: 16.
    The Dolphins have a ton of cap space, so this offseason is crucial. I have a feeling Jeff Ireland is going to screw it up by signing at least one of the overrated free agent receivers in an attempt to help Ryan Tannehill. Perhaps Ireland’s struggles are karma for asking Dez Bryant if his mom is a whore. If he had Bryant instead of the player he drafted in 2010 (Jared Odrick), he wouldn’t really need a wideout.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Everyone congratulated the Dolphins for signing many key players on the first day of free agency, but as noted in my 2013 NFL Free Agency Winners and Losers page, Miami falls under the latter category. The team is going all in for 2013 by overpaying tons of overrated players. Are the Dolphins better? Absolutely. But will these new players help the team make a deep run into the playoffs? Probably not.

    The Dolphins treated free agency like someone would playing franchise mode in Madden. “I have an 84 linebacker but there’s an 86 linebacker available in free agency, so let me replace him! Oh, a receiver with a 95 speed rating? I want him!” It’s stupid. Football is a team game, and compiling a roster as if you’re playing fantasy is never a recipe for success. Just look at the 2011 Eagles as an example. There are going to be high expectations in Miami. With all of these moves, the Dolphins will be seen as a contender for the AFC East. Inexperienced teams with high expectations seldom live up to them.

    Making matters worse, general manager Jeff Ireland backloaded all of these deals, so the Dolphins will be in terrible salary cap position in 2014 and 2015. Thus, after a disappointing 2013 campaign, they could be bad for a long time.

  22. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) – Previously: 13.
    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.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Landing Jake Long and Jared Cook should improve the team, but what if Long isn’t healthy? Cook was given too much money, so I’m not too crazy about that move. He has never done anything except fail to live up to expectations, so I don’t understand why he deserved a 5-year deal worth $35 million.

  23. Houston Texans (12-4) – Previously: 9.
    I wrote this after last year’s playoffs: “The Texans would have been the overwhelming favorites to win the Super Bowl if they had Matt Schaub for the playoffs last year.” OK, maybe not. Schaub kinda sucks.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Houston was pressed against the cap, so it lost key players like Glover Quin and Connor Barwin. The team brought in Ed Reed, but he’s obviously past his prime.

  24. Chicago Bears (10-6) – Previously: 10.
    It’s hard to believe Chicago was 7-1 at one point. Jay Cutler got hurt, and then they went just 1-5 after that, leading to Lovie Smith’s firing. As a replacement, the Bears brought in CFL head coach Marc Trestman. Chicago fans better hope that Trestman knows that there are four downs in the NFL. It would totally suck if he called the punting unit in on the first third down of the season.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Martellus Bennett will give Jay Cutler a solid, intermediate target. D.J. Williams is a cheaper, younger alternative to Brian Urlacher. I hate the Jermon Bushrod signing, but that’s only one bad move.

  25. Green Bay Packers (11-5) – Previously: 6.
    I couldn’t believe it when the Packers came out and said that they didn’t expect Colin Kaepernick to run after their playoff loss. Derrr. On the bright side, the coaching staff is taking a trip to Texas A&M to learn how to defend the read-option. Because they now know Kaepernick can run and stuff.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Packers never sign free agents, so I don’t know why people expected them to get Steven Jackson. The team lost Greg Jennings, but he was always hurt, so no big deal.

  26. New Orleans Saints (7-9) – Previously: 7.
    My girlfriend goes to school in New Orleans, so because I’m going to be making trips there, I can’t say anything negative about the Saints. Otherwise, the locals will make sure that I never leave alive. With that in mind, the Saints are great. I love the Saints so much.

    In all seriousness, the Saints should be able to rebound and bounce back into playoff contention now that they have their head coach again.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Keenan Lewis signing will really help New Orleans’ secondary. The Saints didn’t really lose anyone in free agency. Jermon Bushrod is gone, but he can be easily replaced because he wasn’t very good.

  27. New York Giants (9-7) – Previously: 5.
    The Giants were 6-2 and leading the Steelers in the fourth quarter of a big Week 9 battle. Pittsburgh came back, and everything fell apart after that. Numerous injuries capsized New York, and there was definitely something wrong with Eli Manning, who didn’t look nearly the same as he did in the second half of the season compared to the first two months.

    2013 Free Agency Update: The Giants, as usual, were careful in free agency. They were patient and made some quality signings, getting Brandon Myers, Cullen Jenkins and Dan Connor for very little.

  28. Atlanta Falcons (13-3) – Previously: 8.
    Atlanta lost John Abraham and Dunta Robinson last week. Sam Baker, Tony Gonzalez and Brent Grimes are all key free agents. It doesn’t appear as though the Falcons will be nearly as good next year, but they’ll always be competitive as long as Matt Ryan is healthy.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Keeping Tony Gonzalez and William Moore is huge. Of course, the Steven Jackson signing got all of the headlines. Jackson is no longer the back he once was, but he’s a big upgrade over Michael Turner.

  29. New England Patriots (12-4) – Previously: 3.
    Love or hate Tom Brady, you have to admit that his trolling of Joe Flacco by taking a 3-year, $27 million contract was pretty epic. Flacco seems like such a douche now.

    I love the deal Brady agreed to. It’ll help the Patriots retain most of their players and add a key piece in free agency. Best of all, their nemesis, the Ravens, aren’t going to be the same team next year. Things are looking up in New England.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Will Tom Brady have the same chemistry with Danny Amendola? One would think so, but what if Amendola keeps getting hurt? That’s an issue. Fortunately, the Patriots were able to bolster their secondary by adding Adrian Wilson and keeping Aqib Talib.

  30. Denver Broncos (13-3) – Previously: 4.
    It’s amazing to think how different everything would have gone had Rahim Moore not been a dumba** on the Joe Flacco Mile High Rainbow throw. There would’ve been no Harbowl. No Ray Lewis farewell tour. Tom Brady or Peyton Manning could have won another Super Bowl. And Flacco wouldn’t have become the richest player in NFL history. I just hope Flacco mailed Moore a small check for making this all possible.

    2013 Free Agency Update: Denver had a terrific offseason, getting Louis Vasquez, Wes Welker, Terrance Knighton and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – until Faxgate. Losing Elvis Dumervil looks terrible now, but there’s still time for Denver to recover by adding a substitute.

  31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) – Previously: 2.
    The 49ers have the potential to move into the No. 1 slot depending on what they do with all of their draft picks. If they trade for Darrelle Revis or Percy Harvin, consider them the top squad. Until then, I’m placing them behind the Seahawks because of a possible Super Bowl hangover. That, and Seattle slaughtered them in a December matchup.

    2013 Free Agency Update: As Awesome Girl Who Loves Football pointed out, San Francisco loves getting players from teams that beat them in the playoffs. They obtained Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs last spring, and they traded for Anquan Boldin this offseason. The 49ers will be better, but it seems like the Seahawks have officially passed them.

  32. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) – Previously: 1.
    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 2 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.

    At any rate, Seattle has to be the early favorite to win the Super Bowl. The defense is awesome, Marshawn Lynch is still young, and most importantly, Ruskell Wilkens will keep improving. Don’t believe me? Just look at what this guy says:

    2013 Free Agency Update: I had the Seahawks as my No. 1 team before they acquired Percy Harvin, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. What an unbelievable offseason.

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