You can probably guess what's coming next. Our offensive power rankings are not based on last year's stats. We chose them based on what depth chart, offensive coach and scheme we would want as a team owner or as a general manager. In the end, talent and 2012 potential are what matter most.
While we aren't basing these rankings solely on last season, it's silly not to recognize the three best quarterbacks in the game. Tom Brady has arguably the best set of weapons of his career and the best top-four options in football: Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez. Aaron Rodgers is better than Brady and his weapons are right there too, but Green Bay's running game is a concern. Drew Brees will survive Sean Payton's absence because of the team's incredible personnel and scheme continuity without being too old. They remain very deep.
It would be stunning if any of these offenses didn't finish ranked in the top five in points scored or close to it.
It was tempting to put Cam's crew on the upper tier. With a solid line, two outstanding running backs, and one of the best receivers in football, Newton has enough to join the elite. The Giants have quietly built up outstanding depth at the skill positions. Eli Manning is squarely in his prime. So is Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers will be better than ever once Mike Wallace returns. Detroit's running game is almost nonexistent, but Titus Young's emergence in the passing game should make up for it. The Eagles have more players that can go the distance on any play than any team in the league.
Any one of these teams can pop off for 30 points in a given week. Anything but a top-ten ranking in points would be a letdown.
Houston has blue-chip talent (Andre Johnson, Duane Brown and Arian Foster), but their depth and quarterback don't measure up to the teams above. Peyton Manning figures to experience a month or two of transition in Denver and he has to prove he can stay healthy. The Falcons barely out-rank the Chargers even though we believe in Philip Rivers more than Matt Ryan. The supporting cast is better in Atlanta and the no-huddle offense suits Ryan. The Cowboys have blue-chip talent, but big holes in their roster.
The teams above should have aspirations to be among the top-five offenses. The talent is there for them to dominate if everything falls right, but we rank them only as above average.
This big group is highlighted by a lot of projected middle-tier quarterbacks. San Francisco's running game and scheme can overcome shortcomings in the passing game. The Chiefs have the talent (Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Tony Moeaki and Jonathan Baldwin) to move up a tier or two. The Raiders have a lot of young players in a new scheme, so their development could take time. Buffalo has a great scheme, but lacks great talent. Mike Shanahan finally has enough toys to play with in Washington and they may be ranked too low. Chicago's Jay Cutler is the best quarterback in this year, but the Bears probably have the worst offensive line.
These offenses could go either way. They should keep their teams in games each week.
It's probably not a good thing when Santonio Holmes is your best offensive player and a leader. Cincinnati's wideout position is ugly after A.J. Green. The Colts may have been listed a tier below if we wrote this last week. The offensive coaching staff in Tampa is unproven at best. The Cardinals have some good pieces, but the quarterback situation looks hopeless and the line is mediocre. Blaine Gabbert is just trying to improve to average, and his weapons are mediocre overall. Our undying respect for Adrian Peterson keeps the Vikings out of the bottom tier.
These offenses should aspire to be in the middle of the pack in points scored. They will need to rely on their defenses and special teams.
We still think Sam Bradford can be a difference maker, but he's fighting an uphill battle considering the talent and scheme around him. Prove us wrong, Brian Schottenheimer! Ryan Tannehill looks ahead of schedule, but his wide receivers might be the worst in the league ... unless that honor belongs to the Browns. It's going to be hard to evaluate Brandon Weeden this year.
These teams should be most worried about developing their young quarterbacks and keeping them healthy.