So much has happened since we last convened.
Eli Manning led the Giants to a stirring victory in Super Bowl XLVI. Big brother Peyton now plays for the Broncos. Tim Tebow’s a Jet. The Saints received unprecedented penalties for operating a bounty program.
Those are just the headlines.
With action like that, and with the first wave of free agency in the books, it was a no-brainer to get the team (ESPN.com’s John Clayton, ESPN.com’s Ashley Fox, AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, NFC West blogger Mike Sando and AFC East blogger James Walker) back together for a special edition of our Power Rankings.
Not surprisingly, the champion Giants vaulted from No. 9 in our previous installment to the top spot. The Saints, also not surprisingly, tied with Oakland for the biggest tumble. New Orleans fell nine spots to No. 11.
1 Giants 9-7 The Giants have lost significant pieces from their Super Bowl team and won only nine regular-season games in 2011, but they are the defending champs. They will be the team to beat. (Fox)
2 Patriots 13-3 Adding deep-threat receiver Brandon Lloyd could give the Patriots the NFL’s most versatile passing attack. (Walker)
3 Packers 15-1 Yet another quiet offseason for Ted Thompson as the Pack await help in the draft. (Clayton)
4 49ers 13-3 All 11 defensive starters return from last season, with Aldon Smith expected to crack the lineup after 14-sack rookie season. (Sando)
5 Ravens 12-4 QB Joe Flacco’s strong finish in the playoffs gives the Ravens hope they can get over the championship hump. (Walker)
6 Texans 10-6 Have lost a great deal: Mario Williams, Eric Winston, DeMeco Ryans and Mike Brisiel. (Kuharsky)
7 Lions 10-6 The Lions have spent their free-agency period re-signing key free agents. (Clayton)
8 Broncos 8-8 If healthy, Peyton Manning should lift all of the Broncos’ boats. We’ve already got them as tops in the division and they’ll still be adding pieces around him. (Kuharsky)
9 Steelers 12-4 The salary cap crashed hard on the Steelers. But you can never count out this consistent franchise. (Walker)
10 Bears 8-8 The Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall combo will be hard for defenses to stop. (Clayton)
11 Saints 13-3 Saints fell nine spots in rankings from last season, tied with Oakland for the biggest drop of any team. (Sando)
12 Eagles 8-8 The Eagles finally have a quality middle linebacker in DeMeco Ryans, whom they stole from Houston. And they have a happy DeSean Jackson. (Fox)
13 Falcons 10-6 Falcons have to like their chances with the Saints reeling from sanctions levied in the bounty scandal. (Sando)
14 Cowboys 8-8 The Cowboys have filled some holes through free agency, but they have more work to do. Atop the list: finding another pass-rusher. (Fox)
15 Chargers 8-8 They did a nice job recovering from Vincent Jackson’s departure. But the head coach is still the same and until Norv Turner breaks through with the Chargers, a lot of people are going to presume he cannot. (Kuharsky)
16 Titans 9-7 Added one veteran to both lines, but still need more help. (Kuharsky)
17 Chiefs 7-9 Getting healthy will make a big difference for the Chiefs, who are under new leadership with Romeo Crennel. But is that enough to make up ground in the AFC West? (Kuharsky)
18 Panthers 6-10 Can Cam Newton shatter expectations for a second season in a row? (Sando)
19 Bengals 9-7 The Bengals haven’t had back-to-back winning seasons in 30 years. But young guns Andy Dalton and A.J. Green aim to end the streak. (Walker)
20 Jets 8-8 Tim Tebow-mania invades the Big Apple. But will Tebow help the Jets win games or cause a distraction? (Walker)
21 Cardinals 8-8 Cardinals still hoping to win their bet on Kevin Kolb, but John Skelton will compete for the starting job. (Sando)
22 Seahawks 7-9 Matt Flynn’s acquisition in free agency gives the Seahawks fresh hope at quarterback for the first time in years. (Sando)
23 Bills 6-10 The Bills are not done making improvements, but DE Mario Williams was a huge step in the right direction. (Walker)
24 Buccaneers 4-12 Buccaneers jumped five spots in our rankings from last season after moving aggressively in free agency. (Sando)
25 Redskins 5-11 By trading for the No. 2 pick in the draft, the Redskins and Mike Shanahan will finally have a legitimate quarterback around which to build. (Fox)
26 Raiders 8-8 A new GM and a new coach are overseeing a roster that’s been dented by a lot of salary-cap cuts. Carson Palmer’s a question mark as they try to get it together. (Kuharsky)
27 Jaguars 5-11 The defense is near championship caliber. The offense is an entirely different story. (Kuharsky)
28 Dolphins 6-10 This once-promising team has been gutted by the front office. (Walker)
29 Rams 2-14 Jeff Fisher, Dave McGinnis and Chuck Cecil fill the void left by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ indefinite suspension. (Sando)
30 Browns 4-12 The Browns can’t run, throw or catch on offense. Other than that, they’re fine. (Walker)
31 Vikings 3-13 The Vikings officially are in rebuilding mode. (Clayton)
32 Colts 2-14 Indianapolis could draft first again in 2013. Matt Barkley could bring a nice trade package. (Kuharsky)