NBC Sports' Peter King just released his NFL Power Rankings ahead of the 2020 NFL season and for the most part, everything went as forecasted.
Kansas City No. 1
Baltimore No. 2
New Orleans No. 3
San Francisco No. 4
Tampa Bay No. 5.
Wait, what? Tom Brady and the Buccaneers at No. 5?
Yeah, that's right. Tampa Bay slid into the fifth spot ahead of the Seattle Seahawks, who went 12-6 in 2019 and fell to Green Bay in the Divisional Round. King said he made a judgement call to inflate the Bucs (7-9 in 2019) after underrating the 49ers last season.
Here's some insight on why Tampa Bay is slated at No. 5.
Brady and maybe tight end Rob Gronkowski (assuming he's still Gronk) should make an explosive offense more efficient. The defense needs to be a tick better. Keeping Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, and Jason Pierre-Paul, and continuing to build around defensive keystone Devin White at middle linebacker, are smart moves. Developing a better secondary, the team's Achilles heel, should be helped significantly by second-round safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Nothing's guaranteed, particularly in a season with the tough AFC West on the schedule. But I think the Bucs have a good chance to be 2020's breakthrough team.
There's a lot of optimism in Tampa Bay and yes, Tom Brady is good...but he's 42. Gronkowski can be good too, if he returns as Gronk. But the Bucs have not won a single playoff game since 2002, and it's hard to think the tides could shift that drastically in one season.
King had a few reasons for slotting the Seahawks at No. 6. But first, he noted the stellar play of Russell Wilson, who is a favorite for MVP honors in 2020 despite not receiving a single vote over his past eight seasons.
You might prefer other quarterbacks if you had the first pick in an NFL QB draft. I might too. (Give me Mahomes.) But what Russell Wilson has done in his Seattle tenure is phenomenal. Since making Wilson the third-round pick in 2012, the Seahawks have played 143 games, 15 in the postseason. Wilson has started every one. He's made the playoffs in seven of his eight seasons and won at least one playoff game in six of those seven seasons. (In those eight seasons, a total of 400 NFL MVP votes have been cast. Wilson has never gotten one of those MVP votes.) Seattle doesn't have the greatest offense, or the most explosive numbers, but over the past three seasons, Wilson has thrown 100 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions. He's the reason, basically, that I have the Seahawks this high in my rankings. He's been the deodorant for an oft-sketchy offensive line.
King says in order for Seattle to reach the Super Bowl they'll need a few strong defensive efforts, and that includes more than re-acquiring Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa and counting on 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier to have a turn-around season.
Seattle still needs a cornerstone to its pass rush and that means Jadeveon Clowney or Everson Griffen is on the field opening day.
Just last season, Seattle beat the 49ers, Rams and Eagles -- the NFC's last three Super Bowl reps. The Seahawks are overdue for another Super Bowl appearance and it's only a matter of time before Wilson, Pete Carroll and Bobby Wagner return to the Promise Land.
Be sure to check out the latest Talkin' Seahawks Podcast with host Joe Fann and legendary running back Curt Warner.
Seahawks finish behind Tom Brady, Bucs in Peter Kings NFL Power Rankings originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest