With Tom Brady ready to go Thursday, the Patriots are ranked atop the AFC whole the EGetty Images

1. Seattle Seahawks (2014 Record, 12-4) Previously: 1

Kam Chancellor's hold out is about the only cloud hanging over the Seahawks.It's reached the point where Pete Carroll is openly addressing trade rumors.Still, Seattle looked fine in the pre-season, and rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett's emergence adds another weapon to what most considered the team's biggest weakness, the passing game.

2. New England Patriots (2014 Record, 12-4) Previously: 4

Patriots nation is celebrating after a big victory in court against the NFL, and they have every right to be.While the team's playoff aspirations may never have been in doubt, getting Tom Brady back for those first four games makes home field advantage a reasonable goal, and that can matter a ton come January in Foxborough.


3. Green Bay Packers (2014 Record, 12-4) Previously: 3

It's a testament to Aaron Rodgers that a player the caliber of Jordy Nelson can go down and we remain relatively unfazed about the prospects of the Packers' season.He's gone it without Nelson before, and he can do it again.But when everything shakes out in the end, this does hurt the Packers'chances of being the team that emerges from the crowd at the top of the standings.

4. Indianapolis Colts (2014 Record, 11-5) Previously: 2

The Colts have been hit hard with injuries, and it's been focused on two positions: the defensive line, where they're struggling just to find bodies, and running back, where Boom Herron and Vick Ballard are now injured.New signings Frank Gore and Andre Johnson look good, but the defense was already a question mark.

5. Dallas Cowboys (2014 Record, 12-4) Previously: 6

Even the fans furthest entrenched in the "anyone can run behind this line" mindset have to be a little concerned that Dallas is still looking for running backs by bringing in Seattle's Christine Michele.The loss of Orlando Scandrick in the secondary hurts too.The good news for Cowboys fans is in the aftermath of the Brady case, Greg Hardy appears set on challenging his own suspension by the NFL, and could see the field much earlier than expected.

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6. Philadelphia Eagles (2014 Record, 10-6) Previously: 10

Well, the jury is still out, but the Eagles sure didn't do anything to hurt themselves in the pre-season. The offense looks like it might be a glass cannon, running roughshod over everyone they've faced so far but always dependant on the health of Sam Bradford and the offensive line.Questions remain in the secondary but they would be hard pressed to play worse than the 2014 unit.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (2014 Record, 9-7) Previously: 12

If the Broncosslip, Kansas City is the team that stands to gain.The offense looks like a completely different animal with Jeremy Maclin and rookie Chris Conley in the building. Even if their undefeated pre-season doesn't count, rest assured a wide receiver will catch a touchdown this season.

8. Denver Broncos (2014 Record, 12-4) Previously: 8

The Broncos know their season will go as the offensive line and, by extension, Peyton Manning's health goes.To that end, they're trying to right the ship by signing Evan Mathis and focusing on the running game again this season.

9.Arizona Cardinals (2014 Record, 11-5) Previously: 7

The Cardinals are hoping they finally have the answer at running back in veteran Chris Johnson.CJ2K might be a long way removed from that 2K season, but he did average 4.3 yards per carry last year on a miserable Jets team.There may still be something left in the tank.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (2014 Record, 11-5) Previously: 9

When it rains it pours.Martavis Bryant is now set to miss the start of the season and center Maurkice Pouncey is injured.The Steelers have the quarterback they need to survive a couple of tough weeks, but they may no longer have the defense.

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11. Miami Dolphins (2014 Record, 8-8) Previously: 11

The trendy pick this season for a big step forward, the Dolphins have certainly been trending in the right direction.Suddenly possessed of a deep and growing receiving corps, the team is now thinking Devante Parker may be ready to play even earlier than expected.

12.Baltimore Ravens (2014 Record, 10-6) Previously: 5

The Eagles have gotten all the coverage, but there's been major turnover in Baltimore as well this offseason.Less than half the roster remains from the team that lost to the Patriots in the playoffs. Going it without Haloti Ngata will be tough, and first round draft pick Breshad Perriman still has to prove he can replace Torrey Smith's production.

13.Minnesota Vikings (2014 Record, 7-9) Previously: 14

Teddy Bridgewater impressed as a rookie, and now he gets Adrian Peterson and Mike Wallace to work with.If they can sort out the offensive line in front of these players, Minnesota should be a force to be reckoned with based solely on the strength of a fresh Peterson.

14. Cincinnati Bengals (2014 Record, 10-5-1) Previously: 18

Seeing Devon Still among roster cuts was hard for many Bengals fans and fans around the league in general.Still, it's a sign of how deep the Bengals have become on defense.If everything clicks, the Bengals and Andy Dalton could take that step we've all wondered about since the team gave him that huge contract.

15. Detroit Lions (2014 Record, 11-5) Previously: 15

Calvin Johnson is looking to prove 2014 was an aberration, not a trend.He'll be joined on the Detroit offense by several promising rookies: Laken Tomlinson, Ameer Abdullah and training camp star Zach Zenner.

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16.Houston Texans (2014 Record, 9-7) Previously: 16

The Texans will miss Arian Foster, but seemingly not for as long as originally expected.Brian Hoyer assuredly isn't Bill O'Brien's franchise quarterback, but it's almost equally assured that O'Brien can get more out of him than the Browns did.With this defense, that could mean playoffs.

17. San Diego Chargers (2014 Record, 9-7) Previously: 17

With Philip Rivers now sticking in town, the Chargers are trying to add more and more weapons around him.He seems to have a good connection already with wide receiver import Stevie Johnson, and first round pick Melvin Gordon is hoping to start the first of many seasons as the Chargers' feature back.

18. Buffalo Bills (2014 Record, 9-7) Previously: 13

An off-season that started very optimistically has ended a little colder for the Bills.Tyrod Taylor has been named the starting quarterback, and long-time running back Fred Jackson has been released and immediately signed by Seattle.

19. Carolina Panthers (2014 Record, 7-8-1) Previously: 20

Losing Kelvin Benjamin was harsh, and the remaining receivers haven't done anything to ease Panthers fans' concerns.That said, Cam Newton and the defense may be enough to win the woeful NFC South by themselves, again.

20. St. Louis Rams (2014 Record, 6-10) Previously: 21

The Rams are light on running backs entering the opener with Tre Mason questionable.Rookie stud Todd Gurley has been cleared for contact though, and there's a lot of optimism in St. Louis that this could be the year the Rams jump up what has been a very contentious NFC West.

21. New York Giants (2014 Record, 6-10) Previously: 19

The Giants finally have some news on Jason Pierre-Paul, as the pass rusher joins them in camp. Victor Cruz' status however, remains up in the air as the season approaches.New York can take consolation that no matter what, they should fair better than the Redskins.

22. Atlanta Falcons (2014 Record, 6-10) Previously: 22

Much like previous years, Atlanta looks heavy on the skill positions and light on the line.Injuries are piling up, culminating in their starting center Joe Hawley not surviving roster cuts.Late turnover at center doesn't bode well for a good start to the season.

23. New Orleans Saints (2014 Record, 7-9) Previously: 23

The biggest news of the off-season was certainly Jimmy Graham's departure, but how often has the Saints season turned on the availability of one offensive player not named Drew Brees?Offensive weapons will step in and fill the void, the question is if the same will happen on defense, especially in the light of the team cutting ties with Junior Galette.

24. San Francisco 49ers (2014 Record, 8-8) Previously: 24

The rare positive off-season story for San Francisco came in the form of Australian rugby player Jarryd Hayne surviving roster cuts and making the team as a RB.Still, it seems likely to get darker still before the dawn for San Francisco as they attempt to move on from the Jim Harbaugh era.

25. Chicago Bears (2014 Record, 5-11) Previously: 26

Kevin White's injury hurts, especially in the light of Brandon Marshall's trade to the Jets. With Alshon Jeffery banged up as well, it's getting harder and harder to find where the points the Bears are going to need to keep up with the Packers opening week are going to come from.

26.New York Jets (2014 Record, 4-12) Previously: 25

The Jets are the gift that never stops giving. Many were surprised when Geno Smith retained the confidence of the new regime, and now he's out for the start of the season anyway with a broken jaw delivered from his own (former) teammate.We'll see if the job is still there for Geno based on Ryan Fitzpatrick's play the first few weeks.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (2014 Record, 3-13) Previously: 27

There's been hype surrounding Jacksonville's young starters on offense, none more than second year receiver Allen Robinson, who was establishing himself as Blake Bortles go to target before injury sidelined him last season.Rookie RB T.J. Yeldon is set to open the season as the starter.

28. Oakland Raiders (2014 Record, 3-13) Previously: 28

Trent Richardson's disappointing career may have come to an end in Oakland, where he was among the roster cuts.There are individual bright spots in Oakland.Rookie Amari Cooper, Khalil Mack, and second year QB Derek Carr, but still too many holes for it to translate into much team success in a very tough division.

29.Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014 Record, 2-14) Previously: 31

The records of the last three teams to own the number one pick in the draft the following season? 9-7, 11-5, 11-5.That might be a tall order for the Bucs, but they do already look better just on the strength of having Jameis Winston at the helm.

30. Cleveland Browns (2014 Record, 7-9) Previously: 30

The Browns are in desperate need of playmakers on offense.Rookie RB Duke Johnson looked like he might be becoming one, but will start the season under the shadow of a concussion.Further troubling matters in Cleveland is the sudden suspension of OL coach Andy Moeller for an undisclosed reason.

31.Washington Redskins (2014 Record, 4-12) Previously: 29

It's hard to tell if things in Washington have gotten clearer or murkier.First RG3 was cleared to play. Then he wasn't.Then he was the backup.He's still on the roster, but unless Dan Snyder really enjoys shelling out money to a backup quarterback, maybe it's time to recoup one of those draft picks the team gave away.

32.Tennessee Titans (2014 Record, 2-14) Previously: 32

Week one will give us the Winston vs Mariota debut we've all been waiting for, and that's more than you could usually expect from a season opener between the previous year's worst two teams.From the novelty file: the Titans kept five tight ends on their 53 man roster.

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