The NFL officially returns on Thursday, and Shutdown Corner is rolling out the red carpet, previewing everything to come for the 2013 season. We’ll finish it off by picking our individual awards and the Super Bowl winner on Thursday before the Ravens and Broncos kick off the season.
Back before the preseason started, we rolled out some power rankings. A lot has happened since then.
We don't know if the Bills have a functional quarterback. We don't know if the Jets do, either. The NFL made Von Miller's reported four-game suspension a six-game suspension. The Steelers sound ready to roll with Felix Jones as their starting tailback (yikes). Dozens of Vikings fans threatened to hunt us down if we didn't move their team up.
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So with all those moving parts, the power rankings from a month ago needed some tweaking.
So here are the power rankings, which will be updated every Tuesday morning here, headed into the regular season with a comment on what we've learned in the last month about each team (this time, the "last week" rankings will be from our initial pre-preseason rankings):
32. Oakland Raiders (Last week: 32)
Terrelle Pryor will make them somewhat interesting. Provided their offensive line doesn't get him killed in September.
[Reports: QB Terrelle Pryor to start for the Raiders]
30. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 30)
Losing their most talented offensive lineman (rookie guard Jonathan Cooper) is about the worst news possible for them.
29. Buffalo Bills (LW: 29)
The best guess is E.J. Manuel will play Week 1. That helps. So does C.J. Spiller, who looks primed for a huge year.
28. Tennessee Titans (LW: 27)
Chris Johnson has looked really good behind his new line. The defense still needs a lot of work.
27. San Diego Chargers (LW: 24)
Danario Alexander is done for the year, Manti Te'o missed most of the preseason, but on the bright side Ryan Mathews looked ready.
26. New York Jets (LW: 25)
That the Jets seem ready to hand the QB job to Geno Smith after the preseason he had tells you where this season is headed.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 23)
Really, really like what Michael Vick and the offense did in August. But that defense ... well, how about that offense, huh?
24. Cleveland Browns (LW: 28)
Brandon Weeden looked pretty good in the preseason; the question will be if he looks that good when teams pressure him.
23. Miami Dolphins (LW: 22)
The constant chatter about Daniel Thomas cutting into Lamar Miller's carries is baffling. Dolphins fans better pray it's not true.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 19)
And still, after four preseason games, the Buccaneers remain the toughest team to predict in the NFL.
21. St. Louis Rams (LW: 21)
The coaching staff says it hasn't shown the plan for Tavon Austin yet. Are we sure there is a plan?
20. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 26)
Alex Smith did some good things this preseason. There's just no reason this team can't be in the hunt, now that it has a real coach.
18. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 20)
If Adrian Peterson repeats one of the greatest seasons ever, they'll go higher. But Christian Ponder keeps them here.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 16)
Pittsburgh's running game is a serious concern. Ben Roethlisberger can't drop back all the time and stay healthy.
16. Detroit Lions (LW: 17)
The win against the Patriots showed what Detroit can do at its best. But Matthew Stafford showed some serious warning signs in August.
14. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 15)
Andrew Luck might be an MVP candidate this year. If he is, it's because T.Y. Hilton played as well as he did in the preseason.
13. Washington Redskins (LW: 10)
It's impossible to predict the impact of Robert Griffin III missing the entire preseason, on him or the offense as a whole.
11. Carolina Panthers (LW: 11)
Cam Newton always struggles in the preseason. The difference is, the Panthers' defense doesn't always look as dominant as it did this August.
10. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 8)
The offense will be great, but still didn't see a big reason to believe the defense has improved much.
9. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 6)
They're going to miss Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin. There just aren't many reliable receivers for Joe Flacco.
8. Chicago Bears (LW: 13)
Marc Trestman's effect on the offense is already obvious, especially with Matt Forte (9.9 yards per carry in the preseason).
7. Denver Broncos (LW: 3)
Everyone loves Peyton Manning. He's great. But he can't throw every down. The defense and running game need to help him.
6. Green Bay Packers (LW: 4)
Eddie Lacy looked nice, which is a good sign. Jordy Nelson's return to full health would be another. But the line is iffy and if Aaron Rodgers goes down they might drop 20 spots.
5. Houston Texans (LW: 7)
Arian Foster's issues seem to have been overblown, Brian Cushing is back, DeAndre Hopkins is legit ... yet nobody is talking about the Texans.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 9)
If anything, seeing Giovani Bernard look like he belongs in the NFL solidifies them as an AFC dark horse.
3. New England Patriots (LW: 5)
You worry about how they looked in that third preseason game against Detroit, I'll remember how perfect they were the week before against Tampa Bay.
2. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 1)
San Francisco's starters didn't play much in the preseason. More proof that Jim Harbaugh is one of the smartest coaches around.
1. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 2)
It's just the preseason, but their demolition of the Broncos' starters in Week 2 was a real eye-opener.
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