NFL Preseason Power Rankings: Jets blast off, Steelers plunge

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Tim McGraw hates football.

No Hall of Fame Game means no sneak peek at two consistent playoff teams. Thus, the annual preseason Power Rankings are flying on instruments, with no preseason football gameage until Thursday night. Much is taken into account in this pecking order, from additions and subtractions since we fired off our last salvo to the most recent news out of training camp. You also will find several nods to the Hall of Fame, as I wanted to empty out my notebook from last weekend's festivities in Canton -- some of the intel is random, some is important.

Following a weekend when pro football honored its grand history, here's a voluminous treatise on the NFL's 32 member clubs. Most teams moved a spot or two since early May. So take a long look and share your take: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Let the dissension commence!

NOTE: The lineup below reflects changes from our May 4 Power Rankings, posted after the 2016 NFL Draft.

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1

PANTHERS

Recently worked with former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, who marveled at how hot Mike Shula was as a play caller last season. There can be no overstating Shula's critical role in Cam Newton's MVP season -- a season he played without No. 1 wideout Kelvin Benjamin. So why No. 1 for the Panthers? The Broncos are in quarterback purgatory. The last time the Cardinals took the field -- in Charlotte -- they were outscored by five touchdowns. The Patriots are missing their best player for four weeks. The Steelers are missing the best all-around RB in football for four weeks. You get the point.

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CARDINALS

Players in Arizona are talking about 20 sacks for Chandler Jones. That would be stellar (though it ain't happening). What about Markus Golden? Maybe the kid didn't rip it up last year in terms of his sack total (four), but he did his fair share of collapsing the pocket. Meanwhile, the ultimate Cardinal to harass quarterbacks is 78 years old, and he wasn't an edge rusher. Hall of Famer Larry Wilson was the first guy to wreak havoc on the safety blitz. Wilson and Larry Fitzgerald are the top players in franchise history. Got to meet the former this past weekend in Canton. Unfortunately, I plum forgot to ask him if he's been able to see much of the Honey Badger. Feel like Wilson might've had something to say about the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

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3

PACKERS

1

Stood next to Deanna Favre on the NFL Network set Saturday night while Brett Favre was being interviewed. Dude, make Eddie Lacy work out with her, and he'll run for 2,800 yards. She is fit. Speaking of Brett, I bet countless people have gone online to take in his emotional, fun and ultimately candid speech one more time. Reminds me of when Josh Hamilton went off in that Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium, and people watched it again and again on YouTube. On another Packers Hall of Fame note, heard strong indications that 2017 will indeed be the year for guard Jerry Kramer. Green Bay's current offensive line is a large reason why the Pack's ranked this high. When the unit is healthy and together, it's just better than the groups in Denver, New England and Seattle.

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4

BRONCOS

1

I think putting DeMarcus Ware on a pitch count -- and thus harnessing his energy for a finite number of plays -- will make him an even more effective pass rusher. That's important, because who knows how motivated Von Miller will be on his post-contract, post-superstardom tour? (Not specifically saying he won't be, but one has to wonder.) Back to Ware: His former team in Dallas did the same thing with a 31-year-old Jim Jeffcoat in 1992. The result? How about 10.5 sacks and a Super Bowl win? The Broncos might have QB issues, but they still own a defense that is mint.

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5

PATRIOTS

1

Fresh off the PUP list, Julian Edelman left practice on Tuesday with what appeared to be some sort of leg injury. Not good. Given the defenses that Jimmy Garoppolo will be facing during his four-game starting stint against the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans and Bills, the young QB will be throwing a lot of 5-yard ins and none-yard outs. Thus, New England needs Edelman on the field of play. Fortunately, Ian Rapoport reports that the injury is not believed to be serious. Edelman doesn't receive nearly enough credit for being one of the top players in the league in short space. (When healthy, that is.) The Pats reside in the five hole because of the unknown quantity at quarterback, but of course, all is subject to change.

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6

SEAHAWKS

1

What to make of C.J. Prosise (besides that fact he owns the coolest name this side of Bob Turbin)? The third-round pick could push Thomas Rawls for playing time. The latter is healthy, which is an encouraging sign for a Seahawks team that doesn't want to put everything on Russell Wilson's shoulders again. Talked a little Beast Mode at the Hall of Fame. Marshawn Lynch might not possess huge career numbers, but few running backs coming down the Canton pike will -- not in this pass-happy, give-the-offense-free-first-downs-and-have-Blandino-explain-later era. Lynch was the heartbeat of an incredible football team, with signature runs that will live forever. That might be enough for the bust room.

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7

STEELERS

4

The biggest concern in Pittsburgh, at least from this vantage point, has to be Le'Veon Bell's suspension. Yes, DeAngelo Williams was special in relief last year. He's also 33. So few running backs in NFL history are able to produce at 33. Luckily, in theory, he only must do so for four games. The bigger issue is whether Bell learns from these problems. He is the best running back in the league, period. Yet, you don't want a player who already has missed significant time to injury to blow his talent and opportunity (in that offense) because he's a knucklehead.

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8

VIKINGS

1

The Chad Greenway/Kyle Rudolph-led tour of the Vikings' new stadium -- er, palace -- is wicked. Initially, I was one of those who lamented Minnesota eschewing a wicked home-field advantage (SEE: vs. Giants, December 2015) for a place that would make JerryWorld flinch. But after seeing that tour, well, I'm a changed man. And hey, who wants to sit in the cold when you can play the ice planet Hoth level from "Star Wars: Battlefront" on the video board?

Survey time: Treadwell + Diggs = over/under 20 TDs in 2016? ( @HarrisonNFL)

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9

CHIEFS

1

Small drop for the Chiefs, due to Justin Houston's continuing absence. With that bookkeeping note out of the way ... Caught up with a couple of former Chiefs at the Hall of Fame. Bobby Bell snuck me into a party on the sly. The dude is 76 years old and pulled the old, "I'll go in and then bring out another wristband," trick. I felt like I was at Hurricane Harbor trying to crash my way into the Lazy River (note: don't drink that water). Kansas City is probably the favorite in the AFC West, but at this point, we can't mark the Broncos down until Mark Sanchez buttfumbles. Now that we've met our quota for buttfumble mentions, I should mention three Chiefs came up in HOF conversations this weekend: safety Johnny Robinson, guard Ed Budde and (still active) RB Jamaal Charles.

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RAIDERS

1

Still like the Raiders to hit the postseason for the first time since January 2003. Worth noting: While Amari Cooper continues to receive a large helping of love, few notice that -- statistically speaking -- Michael Crabtree was actually the slightly better receiver last year. The latter seems to get lost in the Derek Carr/Khalil Mack/Cooper youth movement in Oakland. Random aside: I spoke with Mark Davis over the weekend. Think if more people saw how much he cares about the organization -- and its legacy -- they would have a much more complete view of the Raiders owner.

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11

BENGALS

1

Tyler Eifert down. Tyler Kroft down. No Marvin Jones, no Mohamed Sanu, no Hue Jackson. What's the tipping point for Andy Dalton? Let's hope second-round pick Tyler Boyd can pick up the pro game early, especially operating out of the slot. With all the injuries and departures, Cincy falls to the 11th spot, which, in theory, translates to a wild-card berth. If the Bengals are to win the AFC North again, they will do it by managing a challenging schedule -- and by pounding the rock with a motivated Jeremy Hill. I spoke with the third-year RB last month about his gut-wrenching fumble vs. the Steelers in Cincy's crushing playoff loss. He handled the query flawlessly, without irritation, completely focused on becoming a better player. You can't get better than that.

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12

REDSKINS

1

If Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith go off, this Redskins team could be damn good. (Washington fans on Twitter grew tired of the Negative Nancy-ism regarding the running game. I've changed.) Junior Galette's injury certainly doesn't help matters; however, Smith's stout rookie campaign flew under the radar with most football writers. Apropos of nothing: Every time I see Redskins HOF linebacker Chris Hanburger in Canton, he's sporting topsiders. (Are they even called that anymore?)

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13

TEXANS

1

The questions about J.J. Watt's health linger, but where does this team stand in the AFC South? There are plenty of folks who feel this is the Jags' year. Colts fans responded en masse (angrily) when I predicted on NFL Network that they would finish 7-9. Indy does have the best quarterback in the division. All that said, Bill O'Brien inherited a 2-14 team and immediately posted a pair of 9-7 campaigns. And that was with complete turmoil under center. Brock Osweiler may or may not be the answer, but it's difficult to imagine him not being an upgrade. Thus, HOU > JAC > IND. For now.

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14

BILLS

The Reggie Ragland injury bums everyone out, especially those in the Bills Mafia. Thought this defense carried a legit chance at unseating the Seahawks as the top unit in the league, at least in terms of points allowed. Earlier this offseason, they looked strong at all three levels. Ragland might not be the key to the entire team, but given that this franchise has been devoid of a playoff berth since 1999, every hit counts. We're supposed to be unbiased in this business. Cool. I still want to see Buffalo hit the postseason for the first time this millennium.

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15

JETS

9

Huge leap for the Jets, mostly due to Ryan Fitzpatrick returning to the fold. He even trimmed his hair, transitioning from a Pantene mountain man who believes in leave-in conditioner to the bass player of a metal band in Cleveland. (Those dudes are all going high and tight now. No more Whitesnake.) As far as the Marshall-Revis skirmish ... Need I remind you that Rocky and Apollo not only made up, but wore short shorts together.

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16

GIANTS

1

What will it take for the Giants to overtake the Redskins in the NFC East? On paper, New York might be the best team in the division. Then again, as we've seen too often with this group of teams, building through free agency is rarely the answer. Think of the 2000 Redskins, who free-agency-binged on Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Mark Carrier and Jeff George. Or how about the 2011 Eagles, whom Vince Young -- soothsayer of all soothsayers -- dubbed the "Dream Team." Big Blue is stronger at quarterback than either of those ballclubs. Does that put the Giants over the top?

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17

JAGUARS

Much talk of Myles Jack playing early and often. The interesting thing about Jack is that many league observers see him as a player Jacksonville must capitalize on now. With his knee situation, Jack might end up being brilliant, but in a short window. The Jags linebacker to really be excited about is Dante Fowler Jr., who had a year to assimilate the mental aspects of the game. The No. 3 overall pick just turned 22 years old -- plenty of time to make people completely forget about the lost rookie campaign. No more 44-38 contests in Jacksonville.

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18

COWBOYS

2

The only thing more perplexing than all the suspensions in Dallas is the backup quarterback strategy. Maybe the Cowboys are sneaky sly, like the kid playing "Clue" who names a person, weapon and room that he already has in his hand to throw everyone else off. Or maybe the Cowboys are throwing themselves off. There won't be any Matt Hasselbecks out there to save the season in October if Tony Romo goes down. Well, unless they lure the real Hasselbeck off the ESPN set. The lack of pass rush still trumps all.

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19

COLTS

1

No game in Canton on Sunday night meant we A) all got to see Mike Adams' Gilligan hat, B) didn't have to worry about Andrew Luck getting plastered into the turf and C) enjoyed the dulcet tones of Lee Greenwood. While the focus seemed to be on the thousands of Packers fans who drove far to watch their team, I can tell you that I saw a heckuva lot of Indy gear there, as well. Colts fans are people, too! It will be interesting to see what kind of step Phillip Dorsett makes in Year 2. As of now, the offensive line and defense are not strong enough to vault this outfit near the top 10.

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20

BUCCANEERS

While it was last week's news, Austin Seferian-Jenkins' placement with the second team has to be the impending weeks' concern. Fans and analysts alike are all hot dogs and apple pie about QB Jameis Winston's development in his second pro season. A few of my colleagues gush about him. However, the big ancillary force that was to move Winston's progression along was not supposed to be Doug Martin, but rather the trees Winston can target in the passing game. Well, Mike Evans dropped way too many balls last year. Vincent Jackson (33) is long in the tooth. And while he might have been showing promise of late, ASJ has been getting beat out by a former undrafted free agent. Don't sleep on Charles Sims, though.

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21

FALCONS

2

One of the hardest teams to figure out in 2016. Will the defense be improved enough to keep up with the Joneses in the NFC South? Speaking of Joneses, will Mohamed Sanu prove to be a major upgrade over Roddy White opposite Julio? Can the top-flight receiver stay healthy and post 1,800 yards again? Is running back Tevin Coleman the equivalent of Warrick Dunn or John Settle? So many questions, but none bigger than where the pass rush is coming from. Love Dwight Freeney, but he's 36. Seeking unbiased record predictions from true blue Falcons fans (@HarrisonNFL).

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22

DOLPHINS

1

The latest on the Dolphins is that Arian Foster is now batting second in the order. Doesn't matter. This is the classic camp headline, i.e., it means nothing. The younger Jay Ajayi might be listed as the starter, but when he's right, Foster can be a top-five running back. Yes, injuries mounted for him over his last few seasons in Houston, and I'm sure his eccentricities endeared him to about as many fans as the Ryan Mallett school of sideline pouting. Just remember Foster was the first undrafted rookie free agent to lead the NFL in rushing. Ever.

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23

RAVENS

1

Keep hearing the B.S. about the Ravens being a "team in transition." Cool. So where, exactly, are the Steelers, Bengals and Browns? Knocking it out of the park? Pittsburgh's best player is staring down a four-game suspension. Andy Dalton and the Bengals are minus two injured tight ends and lost their WR2 and WR3 in the offseason. And Robert Griffin III has already been named the starter in Cleveland without truly having to compete. While the Steelers are the favorites in the AFC North, there is no way Baltimore will suffer through nearly as many injuries as last season.

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24

LIONS

1

Like many of the teams in this range, Detroit dropped a spot not because of their own doings, but because of the Jets' huge vault. The Lions remain in the lower bowels of the Power Rankings for now, at least until we see how they fare sans the best wide receiver in team history and with a sophomore running back no one is sure of. That said, signing Anquan Boldin was genius. Detroit has a potential home-run hitter in free-agent signee Marvin Jones, a tough slot guy in Golden Tate and now a top-flight player when the chips are down in Boldin. Can the 35-year-old veteran still be the man on third-and-6?

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25

RAMS

1

With "Hard Knocks" set to begin (on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET), fans will get a unique look at a quarterback battle between a vet and a No. 1 overall pick. HBO and NFL Films have many avenues to pursue when it comes to previewing the 2016 Rams, but trying to place the proverbial finger on what rookie Jared Goff will amount to in the league should be most intriguing. Los Angeles was a smart choice for the show, especially when you include the return of the Rams to Southern California and the return of a player in Todd Gurley coming off the most exciting rookie season since Adrian Peterson broke into the NFL in 2007. Randomness: Thought making a play for Anquan Boldin would've made much sense here.

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26

EAGLES

1

Some major offseason Kool-Aid drinking in this Eagles record-prediction video from Heath Evans and a certain analyst we refuse to name. Not sure if our forecasted finish of 10-6 is attainable in 2016. It's certainly not if receiver Jordan Matthews (who isn't healthy) displays inconsistent hands and running back Ryan Mathews is inconsistently on the field. New coach Doug Pederson needs those guys. It looks like Pederson won't have Lane Johnson for the first 10 games of the season, as the starting right tackle is facing another PED suspension.

Tell me Eagles fans didn't take a small measure of pride in a preseason game being cancelled because of the quality of the field. At least Canton had no rats. Only at the Vet, babe.

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27

BEARS

1

So it appears Jay Cutler won't be receiving any Hall of Fame votes from Michael Bennett. Martellus Bennett's comments about his former distributor were illuminating, considering the former Bear generally disappeared after October (Bennett posted 917 receiving yards and three TDs from Week 9 on over the past three seasons in Chicago, compared to 1,197 yards and 11 TDs from Week 1 to Week 8). Cutler will be Cutler, though the plan in Chicago this season is to run the rock and play much-improved defense from last season.

Power Rankings Trivia: Who was the last Bears tight end to post a 1,000-yard season?

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28

SAINTS

2

Apparently, rookie receiver Michel Thomas is turning a few heads at practice. Boy, put the second-round pick with Brandin Cooks -- who should ball out this year -- and Coby Fleener, and Drew Brees should be flat dealing out there. From one veteran Saints quarterback to another ... loved how, in his speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, Brett Favre reflected on attending the Saints' December 1983 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and idolizing then- Saints signal caller Snake Stabler. That was Bum Phillips' third year with New Orleans, and a win in that contest would have given the Saints their first playoff berth in franchise history -- and would have ensured Bum's cowboy hat graced the sideline in the Big Easy a few more years than it did. Which would've meant no Jim Mora and references to "diddly-poo." Those guys were two of the best coaching soundbites ever.

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29

CHARGERS

2

So did you see Joey Bosa's mom drop a bomb on Facebook? The language surrounding this contract thing has morphed from mild to medium to lightning hot, at least in terms of insiders making a huge deal out of it. Of course, it is early August, so tap the brakes. There is plenty of time to get the third overall pick into camp and putting in reps. But it's dwindling.

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30

TITANS

1

Spoke to SiriusXM's Ross Tucker recently about Mike Mularkey; he says the Titans head coach needs to be given a fair shake. Tucker was of the mindset that Mularkey didn't get that during his head-coaching stint in Buffalo, and especially not in the one year Mularkey spent in Jacksonville mired in the Blaine Gabbert experience. Eyes are focused on Marcus Mariota and the new running backs -- obvs. How about Dorial Green-Beckham, who, if he can progress, will provide this offense with another big target besides the tremendously underrated Delanie Walker? Right now, the top of the WR depth chart features the name Tajae Sharpe. Tajae Sharpe.

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31

49ERS

It appears more and more like Blaine Gabbert will win the 49ers' starting quarterback job. Fine, but the player many -- especially the millions who will be drafting for their fantasy leagues over the next three weeks -- have their eye on is running back Carlos Hyde. I know Hyde is not LeSean McCoy, but remember that McCoy led the NFL in rushing in his first year under Chip Kelly in Philly.

Who knows how former team owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and a guy like Kelly would have coexisted, but lost in all the love for Favre last weekend was the brilliant enshrinement speech by DeBartolo. Caring for people in the company, taking care of each other ... DeBartolo made the 49ers sound more like a Delta Airlines promo than a football organization. And yet, it was awesome. Any hazing of Jerry Rice is always welcome. DeBartolo's reference to making sure Jeff Fuller didn't have financial worries after suffering a serious injury in 1989 was especially moving. I remember the game in which Fuller was hurt, and what a solid player Fuller was. Hope you caught DeBartolo's remarks Saturday night. If not, here you go. You're welcome.

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32

BROWNS

Competition? That was the quarterback competition? Perhaps Hue Jackson doesn't want Robert Griffin III looking over his shoulder, as RGIII ended up having to do with both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy in Washington. Perhaps this will build a morsel of confidence in a player who must've been shaken up over his last three years with the Redskins. Perhaps Griffin will light it up, showing a spring in his legs from 2012. We all await.

On a less camp-y note, I saddled up to the bar on Enshrinement Saturday, only to find myself sitting next to a distinguished fella in a black HOF polo and baseball hat. It was none other than Leroy Kelly, who endured a tougher follow-up act than Aaron Rodgers or Steve Young ever went through: Kelly had to replace Jim Brown, arguably the greatest player in NFL history, in Cleveland. All he did was lead the league in rushing in 1967 and '68 before making it into Canton on his own merits. What a stud.

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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