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NFL power rankings: Eagles, Patriots still on top heading into Week 1

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Nate Davis USA TODAY
Published 9:56 p.m. UTC Sep 5, 2018
Eagles QB Nick Foles and new Bears OLB Khalil Mack face big Week 1 tests.
Evan Russell, USA TODAY Sports; Associated Press

The NFL’s 2018 regular season is nigh. However the preseason has produced a few curveballs when it comes to assessing the league’s overall power structure. A look at how all 32 teams stack up heading into Week 1.

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1. Eagles (1): Nope, Carson Wentz isn’t ready. Yup, preseason a mess for Nick Foles and depleted offense. But champs retain our top spot until first L.

2. Patriots (2): Significant questions at left tackle, wide receiver and defense for AFC’s kings. But can’t take them lightly as long as TB12 is slinging.

3. Falcons (3): Fresh measuring stick for talented squad comes Thursday night, nearly eight months after its five-point playoff loss in Philadelphia.

4. Rams (5): They’re loaded on both sides of ball. But after keeping so many starters bubble wrapped in August, will they emerge firing on all cylinders?

5. Saints (6): With five of first six games against teams that failed to reach postseason last year, infamously slow starters should hit ground running.

6. Packers (7): Another team that should come out swinging as healthy Aaron Rodgers and retooled defense play four of first six contests at Lambeau.

7. Vikings (4): Impressive offensive firepower and a new sniper like Kirk Cousins could mean great things … if Minnesota’s blocking is up to the task.

8. Jaguars (8): Loss of nominal No. 1 WR Marqise Lee casts further doubt on their ability to dissuade opponents from stacking up to stop Leonard Fournette.

9. Chargers (9): If they can avoid bad luck for a change, few flaws to hinder them. Keep an eye on second-year WR Mike Williams in red-zone offense.

10. Steelers (10): Note to Le’Veon Bell — if it was a best practice to avoid your place of employment for eight months a year, wouldn’t everyone do it?

11. Texans (11): Deshaun Watson fired off 18 TD passes in six starts last year. Houston had 10 TD passes — combined — in its 10 other contests of 2017.

12. Redskins (14): NFC East seems to annually produce a dark horse. Washington could be it this time with Alex Smith, Adrian Peterson and refreshed D-line.

13. Panthers (13): Remarkably, Daryl Williams is practicing a month after tearing an MCL and dislocating a kneecap. Beleaguered O-line sure could use him.

14. Titans (12): Hate to read too much into preseason, but not a lot to suggest transition — especially on offense — is out of first gear under new regime.

15. Broncos (15): Perhaps no team will enjoy bigger boost from rookies as Denver unleashes LB Bradley Chubb, WR Courtland Sutton and RB Royce Freeman.

16. Bengals (25): With focus on revamped O-line and breakout candidate Joe Mixon, what could be a deep and unrelenting defense is flying under the radar.

17. Ravens (18): Return of guard Marshal Yanda, who might one day be a Hall of Fame inductee, one of this season’s more unheralded and underappreciated subplots.

18. Cardinals (21): Latest reason not to sleep on Arizona? How about defense that generated mind-blowing plus-15 turnover ratio in preseason. FWIW.

19. Bears (22): Their offensive potential has only grown … because newly acquired Khalil Mack ensures a few extra possessions over course of season.

20. Giants (24): They may have to win a lot of 31-30 type games, but an offense featuring Saquon Barkley and jubilant OBJ sure should be fun to watch.

21. Chiefs (19): “We will be the best offense in the National Football League … without a doubt.” Tyreek Hill needs to balance confidence with patience.

22. Cowboys (17): This defense may catch a lot of opponents off guard. It may have to, because battered offense is shaping up as The Ezekiel Elliott Show.

23. 49ers (20): Loss of RB Jerick McKinnon to ACL tear so close to opening day a horrendous blow to offense that couldn’t afford to lose a playmaker.

24. Lions (23): They’ve got a lot of intriguing parts, but the whole was less than sum of those components for a franchise in midst of cultural makeover.

25. Browns (28): Waving goodbye to so many Hard Knocks buddies is difficult, but good to see this club in position to cut NFL-caliber talent for a change.

26. Dolphins (26): One of sports’ age-old axioms is that good teams are strong up the middle. If that holds true, Miami appears to be in serious trouble.

27. Seahawks (27): Players on both sides of ball spent summer offering testimonials for RB Chris Carson. He must justify hype to reduce load on Russell Wilson.

28. Raiders (16): They sent their best player packing. Khalil Mack’s departure will likely cost Jon Gruden good will in locker room, Oakland … and Vegas.

29. Jets (30): They couldn’t have asked for much more than Sam Darnold delivered in August. But Darnold must eventually ask for much more help around him.

30. Buccaneers (29): Their first three opponents went a combined 37-11 in 2017. All indications point to an 0-3 start even if Jameis Winston were present.

31. Colts (31): As preseason unfolded, Andrew Luck started looking like his old self — when rifling ball downfield … or taking ill-advised hits downfield.

32. Bills (32): Parking Josh Allen was right move. With so many holes, Buffalo could have seriously compromised top pick’s development. Good luck, Nate P.

Note: Previous week’s rank noted in parentheses

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Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

Published 9:56 p.m. UTC Sep 5, 2018
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