Rick Gosselin's NFL team rankings

The Dallas Morning News

1. Green Bay. Pro Bowl WR Jordy Nelson is out so the Packers plug Davante Adams in. He had seven catches for 117 yards and a TD in playoff win over Dallas. Green Bay knows how to build a deep, talented team.

2. Indianapolis. Adam Vinatieri enters his 20th season as the NFL's fourth all-time scorer. He's five points out of third (Jason Hanson), 289 out of second (Gary Anderson), and 399 out of first (Morten Andersen).

3. New England. The dynamic of the AFC changes with Tom Brady reinstated for the first four games of the season, including dates with playoff contenders Pittsburgh and Dallas.

4. Seattle. Russell Wilson has his new contract. Now he's going to have to step up his game and play to the level of his money $87 million.

5. Baltimore. In Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, the Ravens have the best set of pass-rush bookends in the NFL. And the pass rush is where it all starts on defense.

6. Denver. Peyton Manning is 39 this season. The oldest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl was his boss, John Elway, at 38.

7. Detroit. Golden Tate and a healthy Calvin Johnson could propel QB Matthew Stafford to his second career 5,000-yard passing season.

8. Dallas. No one starts a season better than the Cowboys, who have won 66.7 percent of their openers (36-18-1). The Cowboys open Sunday night against the Giants.

9. Pittsburgh. The Steelers face the toughest road to the playoffs because they play the toughest schedule. Their 2015 opponents had a winning percentage of 57.8 a year ago.

10. Philadelphia. In Sam Bradford, Chip Kelly now has a quarterback well-versed in the offense. But do the Eagles have the blocking to keep him upright and healthy?

11. Minnesota. The Vikings are going to run the ball with the return of Adrian Peterson but the loss of right tackle Phil Loadholt leaves Minnesota one solid run blocker short up front.

12. Kansas City. The Chiefs were the only NFL team perfect in the preseason at 4-0. Two years ago the Seahawks went 4-0 in the preseason and went on to win the Super Bowl.

13. San Diego. This could be the best cast QB Philip Rivers has been around since 2010 when the Chargers led the NFL in offense. Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates surround him with playmakers.

14. Miami. Ryan Tannehill made a breakthrough at quarterback in 2014 with a 4,000-yard season. He has better targets this season with DaVante Parker, Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron joining Jarvis Landry.

15. Arizona. Can QB Carson Palmer stay healthy? He was unbeaten in six starts a year ago. But he has managed to play a 16-game schedule only three times in the last seven seasons. The Cards need him healthy.

16. Cincinnati. A re-emergence of Geno Atkins, the return of Michael Johnson and the arrival of A.J. Hawk should help the Bengals rebound on defense.

17. St. Louis. The Rams have a defensive front four that may one day rival any in the NFL. Not so the offensive front. Can the Rams provide holes for Todd Gurley and protect Nick Foles?

18. Houston. The Texans have the best defensive player in the league in DE J.J. Watt. But they will be starting their third different opening-day quarterback in three years in Brian Hoyer.

19. Carolina. The Panthers were an average passing team a year ago and now Cam Newton is without his best receiver. Kelvin Benjamin has been lost for the season with a knee injury.

20. New Orleans. The Saints went 0-4 in the preseason. The Cowboys and Colts both went 0-4 in the 2014 preseason and both went on to win division titles.

21. NY Giants. The Giants lost three safeties during August, so the last line of defense this season will be a makeshift one.

22. Washington. As the RG III era ends, the Kirk Cousins era begins.

23. Atlanta. The Falcons have the easiest road to the playoffs because they play the easiest schedule. Their 2015 opponents won just 41 percent of their games a year ago.

24. Buffalo. Rex Ryan is his generation's Marty Schottenheimer and Chuck Knox. He's never been blessed with that franchise quarterback who can win him championships. It's Tyrod Taylor's turn in 2015.

25. Oakland. New coach Jack Del Rio's makeover of the Raiders has been sweeping. Twenty-three players from the 2014 season-ending 53-player roster are gone, including six starters.

26. NY Jets. Geno Smith couldn't win (11-18) as quarterback of the Jets. Now the job belongs to Ryan Fitzpatrick with his career 33-55-1 record.

27. Chicago. The Bears have long been a franchise that prided itself on running the ball and playing defense. Last season they finished 27th in rushing and 30th in defense. New coach John Fox inherited a mess.

28. Cleveland. The Browns will have a third different starting quarterback in three seasons first Brandon Weeden, then Brian Hoyer and now Josh McCown.

29. Jacksonville. Blake Bortles had his struggles as a rookie quarterback last season but the arrival of rookie running back T.J. Yeldon should ease some of his burden of carrying the offense.

30. San Francisco. Coach Jim Harbaugh left for Michigan and the core of an NFC championship contender has been gutted. Ten starters are gone from a year ago.

31. Tennessee. The Titans enter the 2015 season looking to snap a league-worst 10-game losing streak from 2014. Their last win came last October against Jacksonville.

32. Tampa Bay. There have been 11 rookie quarterbacks since 2010 who have made their starting debuts on opening day. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will push the count to 13.


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