6. New England Patriots
Tom Brady deflated the reigning Super Bowl champions’ chance of being a top-five team in my power rankings this year. Brady will serve a four game suspension at the start of the regular season, and will be replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo whose skills will be tested when he fills in for Brady.
Starting running back LeGarrette Blount will also be on the bench for the first game of the season following a suspension, but the strong runner should be a key part of the New England offense following the departures of Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley.
The defense is also a mess due to cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner leaving the team, as well as defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. But hey, it’s Bill Belichick we’re talking about. He’ll find some sort of way to pull this team together and become a championship contender again.
5. Denver Broncos
The offseason hiring of Gary Kubiak showed that the Broncos are looking to move to a more run heavy offense that will result in less throws by 39-year old quarterback Peyton Manning, and more rushes from breakout running back CJ Anderson who enters his fourth year as an NFL running back this season.
Wade Phillips will step in to take over as coordinator of one of the best defenses in the NFL. The additions of Antonio Smith and Vance Walker should help fix up the defensive line, and Von Miller, who after returning from his ACL year in 2013 notched 14 sacks and immediately became one of the NFL’s most feared linebackers again, will once again lead the Broncos defense to more success.