NFL teams are just days away from gathering for training camp and officially starting their march to Super Bowl 50. So, how does the league stack up after the draft, free agency and minicamps? Dan Schneier clues you in as FOXSports.com presents its pre-training camp power rankings.
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32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles will have to prove he has NFL-caliber pocket presence in Year 2. That might be difficult because the Jaguars only slightly upgraded their offensive line. Gus Bradley’s defensive unit lacks the talent to take a major step forward.
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31. Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota looked better than expected during spring practices, but let’s wait until the pads come on before we anoint the Titans a sleeper team in 2015. The defense will once again be among the worst in the NFL.
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30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston’s rookie year production will come down to how quickly the Buccaneers’ newly assembled offensive line can get on the same page. If they can provide Winston time to throw, the Buccaneers could sneak up on people with a very talented group at the skill positions.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
29. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders had a lot of holes entering the offseason, and they did their best to address a variety of them. The Raiders will need second-year linebacker Khalil Mack to be even more dominant in 2015 to hide a questionable secondary. Despite the offseason addition of center Rodney Hudson, the offensive line remains a question mark.
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28. Chicago Bears
The Bears didn’t do enough to address their many defensive deficiencies, and once again, this defense will struggle. Replacing departed wide receiver Brandon Marshall with rookie Kevin White could be seen as a wash at best, but if the offensive line doesn’t play more like it did in 2013 than in 2014, the Bears are destined for a top-five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
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27. Cleveland Browns
The Browns added running back Duke Johnson and wideout Vince Mayle at the skill positions in the draft, and they are desperate for these two players to make an immediate impact on what could be the league’s least explosive offense. An elite offensive line and solid defense keep the Browns from the bottom of the list.
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26. Washington Redskins
The Redskins have done an excellent job of upgrading their roster in the trenches, but they couldn’t fill out every hole from their 2014 roster. At inside linebacker, cornerback and safety, they are among the league’s worst. Although Robert Griffin III got rave reviews during spring practices, we won’t know whether his transformation is real until the pads come on.
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25. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers opted to neglect Cam Newton’s protection and instead awarded him more weapons in the passing game. Rookie tight end/wide receiver Devin Funchess should make a bigger impact in the passing game in 2015 than most expect, but teams don’t often advance far with offensive lines that look like this one. On defense, the unit never recovered last season from the loss of suspended pass rusher Greg Hardy, who now is gone to Dallas.
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24. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will struggle to protect the passer in 2015 following the losses of offensive linemen Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis and running back Frank Gore. Colin Kaepernick struggles under pressure, so this is a recipe for disaster. The 49ers should maintain a strong pass defense, but their run defense will suffer unless NaVorro Bowman returns to form and they get an unexpected contribution from one of their unheralded younger linebackers.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY SportsEd Szczepanski
23. New Orleans Saints
The Saints made a major commitment to upgrading their offensive line this offseason. Give Drew Brees more protection and the running game better holes, and the offense is likely to rejoin the league’s elite -- even with tight end Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. The Saints are finally starting to build on defense again, but it’s going to take a lot more investment and a couple more seasons to emerge from the bottom of the pack.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportDerick E. Hingle
22. St. Louis Rams
On paper, the Rams have one of the most dominant defensive lines in football, and the addition of Nick Foles should be a major upgrade at QB. However, there are key question marks along the offensive line, at the skill positions and in the secondary that could hold this team back in arguably the NFL’s toughest division.
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21. Atlanta Falcons
Coordinator Kyle Shanahan has turned around less talented offensive lines, so have faith that he will do it again with this group. The Falcons will have one of the NFL’s elite offensive units in 2015, but their defense is still several key pieces away from finishing anywhere near the top of the NFL.
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20. San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers is due for a bounce-back season if his offensive line doesn’t collapse as it did in 2014, but there are legitimate concerns the Chargers didn’t do enough to address the problems. A surprising step forward by the defense will be necessary for one of the NFL’s 10 best quarterbacks to get back to the postseason.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsJake Roth
19. New York Jets
If every big-name free-agent addition stays healthy, the Jets will boast one of the NFL’s elite defenses in 2015. If only a couple get injured, defensive mastermind Todd Bowles should still be able to produce an above-average unit. Much like the Bills -- coach Rex Ryan's new team after leaving New York -- the Jets have made major upgrades at the skill positions, but there are question marks at quarterback and along the offensive line.
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18. Buffalo Bills
The Bills return almost every starter from their near-elite 2014 defense, and they also add arguably the best defensive mind in football in new coach Rex Ryan. On offense, they added speed and talent at the skill positions. What’s the issue? Projected starting quarterback Matt Cassel was so bad in spring practices there are rumors he might get cut. With issues at QB and along the offensive line, the Bills’ 2015 season could end like the last one.
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17. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals didn’t do much this offseason to address their glaring 2014 weakness -- the pass rush -- but they did replenish the offensive line. This unit should be among the league’s elite, and its production will help playmakers Jeremy Hill and A.J. Green (18) gash defenses.
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16. Minnesota Vikings
In Year 2 of the Mike Zimmer/Norv Turner experiment, the Vikings have done an excellent job of adding talent on both sides of the ball to fit the scheme of both the defensive-minded head coach and the offensive coordinator. Zimmer’s defensive unit is still a bit raw, but the talent to take a major step forward is there. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s offensive line is shaky, but the return of Adrian Peterson, the addition of Mike Wallace and the return to health of Kyle Rudolph provide the second-year pro with excellent weapons to attack every level of the field.
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15. New York Giants
The Giants have taken several key offseason hits -- they are likely to start the season without arguably their two best linemen in Will Beatty and Jason Pierre-Paul. However, there is a buzz surrounding the offense in Year 2 of Ben McAdoo’s scheme. With a surplus of talent at the skill positions and a scheme that has revived his career, quarterback Eli Manning has an opportunity to help another roster catch fire at the right time.
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14. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs added firepower to an offense that was lacking it by bringing in receivers Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley. Can Alex Smith (11) get them the ball in situations where they can make big plays? If the Chiefs want to earn a postseason bid, he must.
John Rieger-USA TODAY SportsJohn Rieger
13. Houston Texans
With the additions of Vince Wilfork and a reportedly healthy Jadeveon Clowney and Brian Cushing, the Texans could boast one of the league’s elite defenses in 2015. On offense, a solid run-blocking unit will help the Texans use the run to open up the pass. Coach Bill O’Brien has worked wonders with quarterbacks in the past, and he will have to do the same with a lackluster group if the Texans are to take the AFC South.
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12. Philadelphia Eagles
The roster is almost completely different from the one coach Chip Kelly originally inherited a couple years ago. If Kelly is correct, and this new group of projected starters are better fits for his scheme, this ranking will look silly. If uncertainty at quarterback, on the interior offensive line and at safety lead to regular-season breakdowns, this ranking will also look silly. The Eagles’ 2015 roster is the definition of boom or bust.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsBill Streicher
11. Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer’s recovery from an ACL injury is key, and the veteran QB reportedly looked great while taking 11-on-11 snaps during spring practices. The Cardinals’ pass defense will take a step back after losing key contributors, but the offensive improvements will more than make up for it. Palmer will have more time in the pocket and better weapons than he’s had since his Bengals days with Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
10. Detroit Lions
What the Lions lost on the defensive side of the ball, they gained on offense. Early-round picks guard Laken Tomlinson and running back Ameer Abdullah could contribute in key roles in their rookie seasons. Quarterback Matt Stafford has drawn rave reviews for his progress in Year 2 of Joe Lombardi’s offensive scheme. His improvement will negate the losses on defense and then some.
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9. Pittsburgh Steelers
These are not your father’s Pittsburgh Steelers. A franchise with a reputation for defense and smash-mouth football has found comfort with an elite and balanced offensive unit and a defense undergoing a major youth movement. For the Steelers to take the next step, they need their rookies and sophomores on defense to become key contributors.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportCharles LeClaire
8. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins added a ton of talent to the roster this offseason, but there are still major question marks along the offensive line, specifically at guard. Adding free agent Evan Mathis with most of their remaining cap space would solve these problems immediately. Either way, the addition of Ndamukong Suh -- arguably the NFL’s most dominant defensive player -- should help the defense take a big step forward.
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7. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts used almost all of their prime free-agent and draft capital on the skill positions, and they will embark on an NFL experiment: Can a team loaded with playmakers but lacking linemen make a run at the Super Bowl?
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6. Dallas Cowboys
The reduced suspension of newly signed defensive end Greg Hardy is major news. The Cowboys' pass rush was their biggest weakness in 2014, but they have added several pieces necessary to take a major step forward in 2015. On offense, Dallas need to make sure it stays committed to the idea of using the running game to open up the passing game despite the loss of DeMarco Murray.
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5. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore has done well to maintain one of the NFL’s most talented defensive units. And with new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman on board, the Ravens replenished Joe Flacco’s arsenal with two of the draft’s best receiving prospects -- wideout Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams. Flacco is shaping up as an under-the-radar MVP candidate.
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4. New England Patriots
With Tom Brady’s suspension appeal pending, we have to envision the Patriots without their future Hall of Fame quarterback for four games. New England did an excellent job of restocking in the trenches this offseason, but there are major question marks at cornerback that could lead to defensive breakdowns in 2015.
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3. Green Bay Packers
The Packers enter 2015 with a nearly identical roster to the 2014 version that was just a play away from advancing to the Super Bowl. What they lost in the secondary has been replaced with early draft investments that will need to make an early impact. Run defense remains the biggest question mark heading into training camp.
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2. Denver Broncos
New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has a history of success in his first year taking over defenses, and he inherits one of the NFL’s most talented units. Pass rushers DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller and first-rounder Shane Ray are all excellent fits in Phillips’ 3-4 scheme. If offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak can work his zone-blocking magic with a line that won’t return its two best starters from 2014, Peyton Manning has a chance to hold up all season.
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1. Seattle Seahawks
The additions of tight end Jimmy Graham and rookie wideout Tyler Lockett should add an explosive element to an offense that sometimes lacked big plays in 2014. The new guys also should help negate the impact of a potentially weak offensive line. The defensive front seven remains dominant enough to make up for the loss of cornerback Byron Maxwell.