NFL power rankings are out and if the powers-that-be (usually a sports aficionado or journalist or, in ESPN's case, a team of sports analysts) are to be believed, the NFC West's Seattle Seahawks just might be the team to beat throughout he season. Or the San Francisco 49ers. The two teams are at the top on just about everyone's lists, including Frank Schwab, who posted his list at "Shutdown Corner" on Yahoo Sports Sept. 3. In fact, there is general agreement among the top ten teams, for the most part. But, hey, these two teams can't play the Super Bowl -- only one of them can, so who's the top AFC power ranker? Well, that depends on who is doing the rankings as well, but one team stands out.
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, who always seems to have more perennial faith in the Dallas Cowboys than he should, found the Denver Broncos to be the No. 1 team in the NFL, at least for now. But Prisco adds that one should copy the list so you can make fun of him later (which many just might do, you know, because their Fantasy Football team has tanked at season's end and they've got to take it out on someone who at least admits power rankings are, at best, subject to gross human miscalculation). Prisco also thinks the most powerful NFC team is the 49ers, but he's dropped the Seahawks to sixth on his list. What? Why?
Prisco says that the Seahawks may be the "trendy pick" of the 2013 NFL season but they've got a lot of issues to work through to get to the top.
And "trendy" they are. ESPN, Huffington Post, and the New York Daily News all join Yahoo Sports in placing the Seahawks as the most powerful in the rankings. But NFL.com and the Bleacher Report put the 49ers on top. In fact, not one of the power rankings lists put the 49ers lower than fourth overall.
So... looks as if there will be a head-on, helmet-to-helmet collision between the two NFC West powerhouses at least twice (when they play each other in intra-divisional contests) and possibly a third time come the playoffs. That is, if they both make the playoffs. Still, if things run true to predictions, they will both enter the playoffs easily.
The two powerhouses will have plenty of competition, though. Chief among them seem to be the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers, with several power listers ranking the resurgent Washington Redskins as top ten contenders under second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III.
So which team does quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos have to worry most about in the AFC? New England looks to dominate again (even without the benefit of Tim Tebow, believe it or not) and might just return to the Super Bowl. However, they'll have some competition with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, a team that lost a lot of their players after winning the Super Bowl in February (a common occurrence), as well as a powerful Houston Texans team and an up-and-coming Cincinnati Bengals squad.
Still, the first game has yet to be played. The Ravens take on the Broncos on Thursday, Sept. 5, a game that could prove important over the long haul of the season -- or simply give football fans a preliminary round to a possible post-season match-up.
But as it stands, it would appear that the Seattle Seashawks or the San Francisco 49ers will represent the NFC this season, if preseason NFL power rankings are any indicator. And there is general agreement that the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots are the two strongest teams in the AFC. All told, there is an altogether excellent chance that the next Super Bowl will be played by teams from the West division of both conferences.
CBS Sports NFL Power Rankings
1. Denver Broncos
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Atlanta Falcons
4. New England Patriots
5. Green Bay Packers
ESPN NFL Power Rankings
1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Denver Broncos
5. Green Bay Packers
NFL.com NFL Power Rankings
1. San Francisco 49ers
2. Denver Broncos
3. Seattle Seahawks
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals