Preseason Power Rankings: Seahawks, Cardinals lead the pack

A lot has happened this NFL offseason. Just ask Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Exiting the NFL draft and entering the early May Power Rankings, the Patriots were the No. 1 team. Then, in mid-July, Brady ended his fight against the NFL and accepted his four-game suspension. Enter Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback for four games, and exit the Patriots as the No. 1 team in ESPN's Preseason Power Rankings.

Here's how ESPN's power panel (a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities) voted in the preseason version of the Power Rankings. ESPN's Stats & Information contributed the following information.

Look back at our post-NFL draft Power Rankings here and our post-free agency Power Rankings here.

1. Seattle Seahawks

2015 record: 10-6
Post-draft ranking: No. 4

This is the fourth straight season that the Seahawks opened the preseason as the top team in ESPN's Power Rankings, and with good reason. The defense has allowed the fewest points each of the past four seasons.

2. Arizona Cardinals

2015 record: 13-3
Post-draft ranking: No. 5

Arizona has gotten better each season under coach Bruce Arians. If that trend continues, expect big things from a Cardinals team that set franchise records in wins (13) and points (489) in 2015.

3. New England Patriots

2015 record: 12-4
Post-draft ranking: No. 1

The Patriots started 2-2 or worse in three of their four Super Bowl-winning seasons, so forgive our voters for not overreacting to Tom Brady's four-game suspension being upheld. The Pats are still the team to beat in the AFC.

4. Green Bay Packers

2015 record: 10-6
Post-draft ranking: No. 3

The Packers scored their fewest points since 2006 last season, but the prospect of a healthy Jordy Nelson and slimmed down Eddie Lacy could have Aaron Rodgers and the Packers scoring like we're used to.

5. Carolina Panthers

2015 record: 15-1
Post-draft ranking: No. 2

The Panthers have a tough act to follow, after they won 15 games last season, but no team in NFL history has ever followed a 15-win season with anything less than a 10-win season.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

2015 record: 10-6
Post-draft ranking: No. 6

Ben Roethlisberger averaged 328 passing yards per game last season, third-highest all time in a single season. With Le'Veon Bell serving yet another suspension, the Steelers could be relying on Big Ben's arm a lot more in 2016.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

2015 record: 12-4
Post-draft ranking: No. 7

The Bengals, of all teams, have been a model of consistency under coach Marvin Lewis and QB Andy Dalton. They have made the playoffs in five straight seasons ... and they've lost in the first round in five straight seasons.

8. Denver Broncos

2015 record: 12-4
Post-draft ranking: No. 8

Peyton Manning is gone, but defense is what fuels the Broncos now. Consider this: Even with Manning last season, the Broncos finished 28th in passing touchdowns and 25th in Total QBR and threw the most interceptions.

9. Kansas City Chiefs

2015 record: 11-5
Post-draft ranking: No. 10

The Chiefs lost to the Patriots in the division playoffs last season, but no team currently has a longer regular-season win streak than Kansas City (10 games). In fact, no other team has a streak longer than three games.

10. Minnesota Vikings

2015 record: 11-5
Post-draft ranking: No. 9

In 2013, the year before coach Mike Zimmer arrived, the Vikings ranked last in points allowed. In 2015, Zimmer's second year, they finished fifth. If the offense can score some points, expect the Vikings to stay in the top 10.

11. Oakland Raiders

2015 record: 7-9
Post-draft ranking: No. 13

The Raiders? Ranked 11th? Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack have our voters intrigued, but -- not to sound cliché -- they still have to learn how to win. The Raiders had an NFL-worst minus-60 point differential in the fourth quarter last season.

12. Baltimore Ravens

2015 record: 5-11
Post-draft ranking: No. 14

The Ravens won five games in 2007 and followed that with an 11-5 season. The Ravens won six games in 2005 and followed that with a 13-3 season. The Ravens don't stay down for long, so expect a big bounce back following their 5-11 2015 season.

13. Dallas Cowboys

2015 record: 4-12
Post-draft ranking: No. 11

Dak Prescott wowed fans in his NFL debut, and though it was just preseason, the Cowboys need a capable backup quarterback. Tony Romo has missed at least one game in each of the past three seasons, and he missed 12 in 2015. In those three seasons, the Cowboys are 1-13 when Romo doesn't start and 23-11 when he does.

14. Indianapolis Colts

2015 record: 8-8
Post-draft ranking: No. 12

QB Andrew Luck has to be a lot better than he was last season. It would be easy to write off 2015 because of injuries, but Luck was tied for the league lead in turnovers (13) when he got hurt. Also, don't forget: The Colts were 2-5 with Luck and 6-3 with anyone else starting in 2015.

15. New York Jets

2015 record: 10-6
Post-draft ranking: No. 15

The Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick ended their "will they, won't they" offseason with a one-year deal. Was it the right move? Fitzpatrick set the Jets' franchise record for touchdown passes (31) last season, but he also has zero career playoff appearances.

16. Houston Texans

2015 record: 9-7
Post-draft ranking: No. 17

Our voters have the Texans in the middle of the pack, but their potential rise or fall will likely depend on their consistency at quarterback. The Texans finished 9-7 with four different starters last season. This season, it's on Brock Osweiler to stay healthy.

17. New York Giants

2015 record:6-10
Post-draft ranking: No. 18

If every game last season ended with exactly 75 seconds left, the Giants would have finished 10-5-1. This offseason, the Giants replaced coach Tom Coughlin with Ben McAdoo and gave away money (see Olivier Vernon) like they gave away leads. Can the Giants play a full 60 minutes every week this season?

18. Washington Redskins

2015 record: 9-7
Post-draft ranking: No. 16

Our voters don't have a lot of faith in the Redskins right now, and can you blame them? Although we liked Kirk Cousins' ascension, it came out of nowhere. Also working against Washington? The Redskins haven't made the playoffs in back-to-back years since George H.W. Bush was president.

19. Atlanta Falcons

2015 record: 8-8
Post-draft ranking: No. 20

An 8-8 season isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's pretty close to it after you start 6-1. The Falcons have missed the playoffs in three straight years, and with center Alex Mack the biggest offseason addition, the Falcons seem poised for another middling season.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars

2015 record: 5-11
Post-draft ranking: No. 23

The Jaguars open the 2016 season Power Rankings at No. 20, which shows that our voters see potential in the team's young core. How so? That 20 ranking is tied for the Jaguars' highest since Week 3 of the 2011 season.

21. Chicago Bears

2015 record: 6-10
Post-draft ranking: No. 25

The Panthers went 11-5 in John Fox's second year as head coach. The Broncos went 13-3 in Fox's second year as head coach. This will be Fox's second year as head coach of the Bears. Will the Bears get their first 10-win season since 2012?

22. New Orleans Saints

2015 record: 7-9
Post-draft ranking: No. 27

The Saints have Drew Brees, but their defense turns opponents' quarterbacks into Brees. Against the Saints last season, quarterbacks posted a 68.4 completion percentage, 45 pass touchdowns, nine interceptions and 78.6 Total QBR.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2015 record: 6-10
Post-draft ranking: No. 29

A few strong Jameis Winston starts out of the gate could very quickly have our voters singing a different tune about the Buccaneers. Had the Bucs finished stronger last season (they lost their last four after a 6-6 start), they might have been higher in these rankings.

24. Buffalo Bills

2015 record: 8-8
Post-draft ranking: No. 19

Tyrod Taylor impressed in 2015, as he helped lead the Bills to an 8-8 record, but if the preseason rank of 24th is any indication, the Bills will be tacking another year onto their NFL-long 16-year playoff drought.

25. Philadelphia Eagles

2015 record: 7-9
Post-draft ranking: No. 22

The Eagles are off to a rough start in 2016, as No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz suffered broken ribs in the Eagles' first preseason game. It's a good thing the Eagles re-signed Sam Bradford and signed career backup Chase Daniel for a combined $34 million guaranteed this offseason.

26. Miami Dolphins

2015 record:6-10
Post-draft ranking: No. 21

Coach Adam Gase has been labeled a "quarterback whisperer," so Ryan Tannehill better be listening. He posted a career-worst 43.1 Total QBR last season, despite a talented receiving corps that featured Jarvis Landry, who had a franchise-record 100 receptions last season.

27. Detroit Lions

2015 record: 7-9
Post-draft ranking: No. 24

The loss of Calvin Johnson is big, but the Lions might not be getting the benefit of the doubt here. They went 6-2 over the second half of 2015, and Matthew Stafford will have Golden Tate, Anquan Boldin and Marvin Jones to throw to in 2016.

28. San Diego Chargers

2015 record: 4-12
Post-draft ranking: No. 28

The good news is that Melvin Gordon, the 15th overall pick in 2015, scored his first NFL touchdown. The bad news is it came in the first preseason game of 2016. Still, if it's a sign of things to come, it would be a boost for a Chargers team that ranked 31st in rushing last season.

29. Los Angeles Rams

2015 record: 7-9
Post-draft ranking: No. 26

The Rams' appearance on "Hard Knocks" has proved one thing so far: Jared Goff doesn't know which direction the sun sets. Luckily for Goff, his star will rise out west if he can improve the Rams' NFL-worst 35.6 Total QBR from last season.

30. Tennessee Titans

2015 record: 3-13
Post-draft ranking: No. 30

This ranking for the Titans is less a reflection of Marcus Mariota's potential and more a glimpse of the future under coach Mike Mularkey. Since a 9-7 coaching debut with the Bills in 2004, Mularkey is 9-32 as a head coach.

31. Cleveland Browns

2015 record: 3-13
Post-draft ranking: No. 32

In the Browns' preseason debut, Robert Griffin III threw an interception and Cody Kessler ran out of the back of his own end zone for a safety. It's good to see the Browns got their quarterback situation figured out.

32. San Francisco 49ers

2015 record: 5-11
Post-draft ranking: No. 31

Blaine Gabbert is 8-27 in his career as a starting quarterback and has the worst completion percentage and Total QBR since he entered the NFL. He is currently in contention for the 49ers' starting job. That's ... not good.