Week 1 Power Rankings: Seahawks, Steelers are out front

On the eve of a new NFL season, ESPN's power panel (a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities) has Seattle and Pittsburgh ranked first and second. The Steelers have impressed this offseason, moving up to No. 2 after ranking sixth in the preseason edition.

ESPN's Stats & Information contributed the following information.

1. Seattle Seahawks

2015 record: 10-6
Preseason ranking: No. 1

Russell Wilson set career highs in just about every passing category last season, but the top-ranked Seahawks would probably prefer to reduce his workload this season. Wilson is 14-10 in his career when throwing 30-plus passes in a game, and 32-8 when throwing fewer than 30 passes.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

2015 record: 10-6
Preseason ranking: No. 6

The past two seasons rank as the highest-scoring seasons in Steelers' franchise history. The Steel Curtain might be no more, but with an offense like that, they'd probably still win with linen curtains.

3. New England Patriots

2015 record: 12-4
Preseason ranking: No. 3

What do you got, Jimmy Garoppolo? He makes his first career start against a defense that was second in takeaways (33) and had the highest blitz percentage (45 percent) last season. Garoppolo has faced eight blitzes in his NFL career.

4. Arizona Cardinals

2015 record: 13-3
Preseason ranking: No. 2

Carson Palmer was the model of consistency last season, posting an above-average Total QBR (more than 50) in 15 of his 16 games played. More of that play will keep the Cardinals in the mix for as long as it happens.

5. Carolina Panthers

2015 record: 15-1
Preseason ranking: No. 5

The Panthers won their first 14 games to start the 2015 season but could be staring an 0-1 start in the face in 2016. In two career starts against the Broncos, Cam Newton has taken 13 sacks and posted an 11.1 Total QBR.

6. Green Bay Packers

2015 record: 10-6
Preseason ranking: No. 4

According to ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI), the Packers are currently favored in all 16 games this season. That doesn't mean they'll go 16-0, but odds are the Packers could find themselves climbing even higher than sixth in these rankings in the near future.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

2015 record: 12-4
Preseason ranking: No. 7

With Tyler Eifert out and with no clear-cut No. 2 wide receiver, the Bengals could try to ride Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard in the early going. That might work in the long run, but their Week 1 opponent, the Jets, had the second-best rush defense last season.

8. Denver Broncos

2015 record: 12-4
Preseason ranking: No. 8

Trevor Siemian has earned the start for the Broncos in Week 1 despite having one career NFL snap, but his play might not be the difference. Broncos quarterbacks had the second-worst TD-INT differential last season and still won the Super Bowl.

9. Kansas City Chiefs

2015 record: 11-5
Preseason ranking: No. 9

The Chiefs started 1-5 last season but won their final 10 games. If they can get off to a better start this season, that'll give them a nice cushion as they wait for Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston to return to full health.

10. New York Jets

2015 record: 10-6
Preseason ranking: No. 15

The Jets' first six games this season are against teams that finished .500 or better in 2015, and four of them are on the road. The Jets played nine games against teams that finished under .500 last season, tied for fourth-most in the NFL, and went 7-2 in those games.

11. Oakland Raiders

2015 record: 7-9
Preseason ranking: No. 11

Anyone who thinks Derek Carr's 2015 season might have been a one-time thing will probably have to wait at least a week to feel vindicated. Carr faces a Saints team that allowed the worst NFL passer rating in league history last season.

12. Minnesota Vikings

2015 record: 11-5
Preseason ranking: No. 10

Teddy Bridgewater's injury forced the Vikings to pay a steep price for Sam Bradford in hopes of salvaging their season. Problem is, Bradford's career Total QBR of 40.5 is lower than Shaun Hill's 45.6.

13. Houston Texans

2015 record: 9-7
Preseason ranking: No. 16

New quarterback. New running back. A few new wide receivers. The Texans' offense will look a lot different this season, and they're hoping the results will be different, too. The Texans have ranked 24th in scoring the past three seasons.

14. Washington Redskins

2015 record: 9-7
Preseason ranking: No. 18

There's a good chance the Redskins will find themselves a little lower in the Week 2 Power Rankings. They open their season on Monday Night Football against the Steelers (7:10 ET, ESPN). The Redskins haven't beaten the Steelers since 1991.

15. Baltimore Ravens

2015 record: 5-11
Preseason ranking: No. 12

The Ravens don't stay down for long, and a home game against the Bills seems like a recipe to start on the right foot. The Ravens haven't missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 2004-05.

16. Buffalo Bills

2015 record: 8-8
Preseason ranking: No. 24

Tyrod Taylor and Rex Ryan make their triumphant returns to Baltimore to start their season. The Bills haven't won in Baltimore since 1999, which is, coincidentally, the last time the Bills made the playoffs.

17. New York Giants

2015 record: 6-10
Preseason ranking: No. 17

The Giants are 0-8 all time in season openers against the Cowboys and have lost three straight in Dallas. A new coach and a shiny new defense could buck those trends in Week 1 though.

18. Indianapolis Colts

2015 record: 8-8
Preseason ranking: No. 14

Andrew Luck struggled last season, but in his last game played he did beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos, one of two games last season in which he didn't commit a turnover. The Colts need more of that Luck to keep rising in the rankings.

19. Jacksonville Jaguars

2015 record: 5-11
Preseason ranking: No. 20

The young Jaguars will be put to the test early when Aaron Rodgers and the Packers roll into town in Week 1. The Jaguars haven't won a season opener since 2011, but they have their best offense since 2007, when they finished sixth in scoring and made the playoffs.

20. Detroit Lions

2015 record: 7-9
Preseason ranking: No. 27

The Lions will take the field without Calvin Johnson in a season opener for the first time since 2006. Mike Furrey was the leading receiver for Detroit that day, but the trio of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin figure to do a little better this time around.

21. Miami Dolphins

2015 record:6-10
Preseason ranking: No. 26

The Dolphins start their season on the road against the No. 1-ranked Seahawks and on the road against the No. 3-ranked Patriots. There's a good chance the Dolphins will be lower than 21st in the rankings after that stretch.

22. Atlanta Falcons

2015 record: 8-8
Preseason ranking: No. 19

Win or lose for the Falcons, Julio Jones figures to come out a winner in Week 1. He has averaged 9.3 receptions and 133.8 receiving yards in his past four games against the Buccaneers, catching 72.5 percent of his targets in those games.

23. Dallas Cowboys

2015 record: 4-12
Preseason ranking: No. 13

The Cowboys took a big hit in the rankings following Tony Romo's injury, and rookie Dak Prescott is in a unique position. No rookie quarterback has started and won a season opener for the Cowboys since Roger Staubach in 1969.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2015 record: 6-10
Preseason ranking: No. 23

The Buccaneers are tied with the Titans and Cowboys for the longest active losing streak, but the good news is that they travel to Atlanta in Week 1. The Bucs swept the season series against the Falcons for the first time since 2007 last season.

25. Philadelphia Eagles

2015 record: 7-9
Preseason ranking: No. 25

The Eagles will have a quarterback making his first career start in Week 1 against the Browns. It'll be a learning experience for Carson Wentz, but hey, at least it's against the Browns.

26. San Diego Chargers

2015 record: 4-12
Preseason ranking: No. 28

The Joey Bosa holdout finally came to an end, but will he make an impact in Week 1? The Chargers have lost four straight to their Week 1 opponents, the Chiefs, allowing nearly 5.0 yards per rush in those games.

27. New Orleans Saints

2015 record: 7-9
Preseason ranking: No. 22

The Saints get to open their 2016 season at home, but that doesn't mean much for New Orleans anymore. The Saints are 4-9 in their past 13 home games, losing three of the past four.

28. Los Angeles Rams

2015 record: 7-9
Preseason ranking: No. 29

The last quarterback to go first overall and not play in Week 1 was JaMarcus Russell in 2007, but the Rams' hands are tied. When you've got a quarterback in Case Keenum with a career 5-10 record and 38 career Total QBR, you have to start him instead.

29. Chicago Bears

2015 record: 6-10
Preseason ranking: No. 21

Bad news for Jay Cutler: J.J. Watt is now expected to play in Week 1. The last time Cutler faced a Watt-led defense was in 2012. Cutler didn't last two full quarters and threw two interceptions, and the Bears scored six points. Cutler wasn't sacked though ...

30. Tennessee Titans

2015 record: 3-13
Preseason ranking: No. 30

Week 1 has been the Titans' time to shine; they've won their last three openers by a total of 51 points. An opener against a Teddy Bridgewater-less Vikings could extend that streak, but don't get too excited if they do. Tennessee is 9-36 in all other weeks in that time.

31. Cleveland Browns

2015 record: 3-13
Preseason ranking: No. 31

Robert Griffin III will get his first regular-season action since Week 17 of 2014. If the preseason is any indication, it should be interesting. Griffin's three preseason touchdowns went for 50, 29 and 43 yards, respectively.

32. San Francisco 49ers

2015 record: 5-11
Preseason ranking: No. 32

The 49ers were exciting on Monday Night Football in Week 1 last season, beating the Vikings, 20-3. Things went downhill from there, but recreating that Monday night magic this year could at least get the 49ers out of the cellar for a week or two in the Power Rankings.