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NFL Power Rankings: Patriots #1, but who will challenge them this year?

With training camps open and the first preseason games nearly on us, our writers put their heads together to produce the first power ranking of the new season.

Even if they hadn’t made that incredible comeback in Super Bowl LI, the moves the New England Patriots have made this offseason would have them in serious consideration for the #1 spot. The question is, where do the rest of the teams fit into the equation?

  1. 1 New England Patriots

    The Super Bowl LI champions come into 2017 with their key pieces still intact, a healthy Rob Gronkowski, and a whole bunch of new weapons for Tom Brady. There seems to be no stopping them. The retirement of Rob Ninkovich will cause a few plans to adjust, but no one is as good at adjusting on the fly as the Patriots. (Toby Durant)

  2. 2 Green Bay Packers

    The addition of Martellus Bennett is just another weapon for Aaron Rodgers. It is not far fetched to think he may throw 55 TDs this season. With their team largely unchanged and whole offseason to settle the running game and a healthy secondary, they look set for another strong season. (Ed Brickeen)

  3. 3 Atlanta Falcons

    Atlanta have kept their key pieces on the field, but off of it Kyle Shanahan's absence may well hurt their consistency and ingenuity on offense. Still, their young defense has another year to gel, improve, and generally become more terrifying. This could be one of the most complete teams in the NFL in 2017. (Toby Durant)

  4. 4 Oakland Raiders

    A broken leg for Derek Carr at the end of the regular season prevented us seeing just what this young Raiders team could do against the best of the best. Well, now he's back and they have another preseason of growing and improving. We expect big things this year. (Toby Durant)

  5. 5 Pittsburgh Steelers

    Big Ben's last ride could be this season. Will the Terrible Towels be waving in January, or sopping up the tears in the Steel Curtain? The offense is still deadly with the Killer B's, and the defense could be better than last year. (Ed Brickeen)

  6. 6 Dallas Cowboys

    The Cowboys have to worry about a sophomore slump from their two best players, troubles with the law, and the happiness of Dez Bryant. Big D could be in the Super Bowl, or finish third in the East. As ever, it's not easy to project the Cowboys. (Ed Brickeen)

  7. 7 Seattle Seahawks

    A new running back, a new contract for Kam Chancellor, and another chance to stamp their name on the NFL. After making two Super Bowls in a row the Seahawks seem to have been knocked off the top of the NFC, but they are still a dangerous team who can beat anyone on their day. (Toby Durant)

  8. 8 Kansas City Chiefs

    The Chiefs extended Andy Reid's contract and once again look set to be a tough out for teams, but remain limited by Alex Smith's ability under center. Patrick Mahomes II may end up taking the reins before too long. They represent the top of the second tier of teams for 2017, looking in on the circle of teams most likely to end up hoisting the Lombardi in February. (Toby Durant)

  9. 9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    In case there was any doubt whether or not the Bucs see Jameis Winston as the future, signing free agent DeSean Jackson and drafting top tight end OJ Howard and speedy wideout Chris Howard made it clear that they are putting the future in the hands of #3. There are still some concerns - run blocking is an area that needs improvement, and the safety situation is a worry - but if DC Mike Smith can get the defense playing like they were in the latter two-thirds of 2016, then the Bucs should be poised for their first postseason berth since 2007. (Gur Samuel)

  10. 10 Carolina Panthers

    The Panthers quietly had a great offseason as they bolstered their defensive backfield with Mike Adams and Captain Munnerlyn. The secondary struggled with Josh Norman's departure, so the improvements are a welcome sight. If Cam can stay healthy and upright in the pocket, they will challenge Atlanta for the NFC South. (Alex Freeman)

  11. 11 Tennessee Titans

    This might be a darling pick for the playoffs by the time the season starts. They added weapons around Marcus Mariota and picked up versatile cornerback Logan Ryan. They will challenge for the AFC South crown and could well end up taking it if they avoid injuries to key players. (Toby Durant)

  12. 12 Detroit Lions

    The Lions are bidding for the NFC North crown that has eluded them for the last few years. They have rebuilt the right side of their offensive line and brought in new pieces in their defense. One key is they need the 2015 version of Ziggy Ansah back on the field. They can't get just two sacks from him again. (Toby Durant)

  13. 13 Philadelphia Eagles

    The Eagles not only improved their offensive weapons in the offseason, they also bolstered their O-line and gained key defensive pieces such as Chris Long and Timmy Jernigan. If Carson Wentz can step up in his sophomore season, the Eagles could be dangerous. (Alex Freeman)

  14. 14 New York Giants

    The Giants had one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, and if they can repeat that feat again in 2017 they will be dangerous. However, question marks are starting to crop up around the offense, and not just in the ground game but at the quarterback position as well. (Toby Durant)

  15. 15 Houston Texans

    Yet again, the Texans are entering an NFL season with a strong defense, good offensive weapons, and no clear answer at quarterback. The difference this year is that they seem to have given up on journeymen QBs and finally decided to focus on their own crop, with Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson the main focus. If this team is to live up to its potential, then one of these two must master coach O'Brien's notoriously complex playbook. (Anthony Wood)

  16. 16 Arizona Cardinals

    After a great 2015 and a disappointing 2016, we are left wondering just who these Cardinals are.  Can they find the magic from two years ago, or will the passing game struggle to click again? The things we do know about them is that they will miss Calais Campbell on defense and that David Johnson will be incredibly fun to watch once again. (Toby Durant)

  17. 17 New Orleans Saints

    All offense, no defense. That's been the Saints over the last decade, and we don't expect anything different from a team that added Adrian Peterson when they really didn't need to. (Toby Durant)

  18. 18 Minnesota Vikings

    The Vikes are a talented team limited by a sluggish offense. Sam Bradford needs to push the ball down field more, but to do that he needs better protection. They made a few changes to the offensive line over the offseason, if they gel then they could push for the playoffs, if not then a very good defense could once again be wasted. (Toby Durant)

  19. 19 Miami Dolphins

    Is this too low for the Dolphins? Maybe. Year 2 of a new offense is when things tend to click properly, and Adam Gase is one of the best offensive coaches around right now. If he can continue to get good performances from Ryan Tannehill and find more consistency on the ground they could go far. (Toby Durant)

  20. 20 Denver Broncos

    The uncertainty of their quarterback battle will stop the offense really coming together in the preseason. Combine that with a new defensive coordinator who will tinker with what was a great unit and you have a recipe for disaster in Denver. (Toby Durant)

  21. 21 Washington Redskins

    Kirk Cousins is left to bet on himself and his play for the third year in a row. While confidence is great, it can only get you so far, especially after the organization dumps your two most prolific offensive weapons. An uphill battle for Cousins spells uncertainty for his future in the NFL, and for the Redskins in 2017. (Alex Freeman)

  22. 22 Cincinnati Bengals

    It doesn't seem so long ago that the Bengals were one Andy Dalton injury away from a deep playoff push. Now the team around him has been decimated and we're left with AJ Green and not a lot else. (Toby Durant)

  23. 23 Los Angeles Chargers

    The Chargers have a deep offensive pool of go-to players, maybe the deepest Philip Rivers has ever had. The problem with the Chargers these last few years has been health, or lack there of it. Injuries have plagued this team, but if they can stay healthy, they could compete for the division. (Alex Freeman)

  24. 24 Indianapolis Colts

    Andrew Luck's shoulder is the most thought about body part in Indiana, and that's not a good thing for the Colts. Their success has always hinged on the bearded one, and if he is unable to throw come Week 1 this could be a long and awful season for the Colts. (Toby Durant)

  25. 25 Baltimore Ravens

    No team has had a worse preseason than the Ravens. Joe Flacco is hurt, Crockett Gillmore is out for the year, Dennis Pitta had to retire, Kenneth Dixon is done...  The injuries have already piled up for a shaky offense. Their season may be done already. (Toby Durant)

  26. 26 Buffalo Bills

    There seems to be little faith that Sean McDermott can turn these Bills around quickly. Still, Shaq Lawson, Sammy Watkins, and LeSean McCoy make this team one that could surprise more than a few people. (Toby Durant)

  27. 27 Jacksonville Jaguars

    After a five INT performance over the weekend, either their defensive spending in the offseason is paying dividends already or Blake Bortles is just that bad. I'm willing to bet it's a little from column A and a little from column B. While Bortles continues to be an inconsistent mess this team won't go anywhere. (Toby Durant)

  28. 28 Los Angeles Rams

    Aaron Donald isn't in training camp. That alone should be enough to depress Rams fans, but after last season the sight of Jared Goff should do that too. Sean McVay has his work cut out for him with this offense. (Toby Durant)

  29. 29 San Francisco 49ers

    The 49ers have changed a lot since the not-so-distant days of Jim Harbaugh. But in Kyle Shanahan, they have a coach who is universally revered, and he has a quarterback he has had success with before. No one is expecting them to suddenly turn into the 2016 Falcons, but there is a lot more to be excited about in the 49ers than other teams dwelling in the NFL basement. (Toby Durant)

  30. 30 Chicago Bears

    Their QB depth chart leaves a lot to be desired, and Pernell McPhee is already hurt. The Bears have very little outside of Jordan Howard to get excited about and this season could well be a long one. (Toby Durant)

  31. 31 Cleveland Browns

    Hey, they're not last! Though that could have more to do with our #32 team than the Browns. Still, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel after they invested in the offensive line and brought in a lot of exciting rookies. (Toby Durant)

  32. 32 New York Jets


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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.


I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

NFL Power Rankings: Patriots #1, but who will challenge them this year?

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