Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Week 1 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: September 7, 2013 - 7:08 AM

What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

 
CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Broncos (1-0)
I'll throw out two of my favorite overused sports phrases: 1, Peyton Manning is on pace for 112 touchdown passes this season. 2, If the season were to end today, the Broncos would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
 
THE REST
2. 49ers. 3. Patriots. 4. Falcons. 5. Seahawks. 6.  Packers. 7. Saints. 8. Giants. 9. Bengals. 10. Ravens (0-1). 11. Colts. 12. Texans. 13. Redskins.
 
THE VIKINGS
14. Vikings: All together now ... "If Christian Ponder (fill in the blank that indicates you don't trust him but have allowed yourself some wiggle room in case he plays well and makes you look like a dufus) the Vikings should be a playoff contender." I'm going to say he'll be good enough to keep the Vikings in the hunt. Stay tuned as to whether he catches anything.
 
THE REST OF THE REST
15. Bears. 16. Cowboys. 17. Steelers. 18. Eagles. 19. Lions. 20. Rams. 21. Chiefs. 22. Dolphins. 23. Bills. 24. Buccaneers. 25. Panthers. 26. Cardinals. 27. Chargers. 28. Browns. 29. Titans. 30. Jaguars. 31. Raiders.
 
WORST OF THE BUNCH
32. Jets: Adrian Peterson isn't the only one who sets lofty goals. The Jets hope to sign fewer than 2,499 quarterbacks this season.
 
THE PICKS
Vikings plus-5 at Lions
Vikings 24, Lions 17
Why: If the Vikings don't let Adrian Peterson hit someone soon, the guy is going to explode. He'll have a big game. And so will the Vikings' defensive line, even without Kevin Williams. Detroit has three new starters on the O-line, including a left tackle who will be getting his first look at Jared Allen. A healthy Jared Allen.
 
UPSET SPECIAL
Bengals plus-3 at Bears: Bengals 24, Bears 21.
Why?: Marc Trestman is a sharp guy who probably will succeed as an NFL head coach. But even favored at home in Week 1, the Bears, I think, will have an adjustment period. For some reason, I just see Jay Cutler not looking real comfortable and happy in a West Coast scheme early on. Two of the riskier teams to put your faith in are the Bengals and Lions. There's talent there but you never really know if they'll be 11-5 or 5-11. But I'll reach on the Bengals this week.
 
THE REST
Patriots minus-9 1/2 at Bills: Patriots by 7.
Titans plus-7 at Steelers: Steelers by 10.
Falcons plus-3 at Saints: Falcons by 6.
Buccaneers minus-3 1/2 at Jets: Buccaneers by 7.
Chiefs minus-4 at Jaguars: Jaguars by 3.

Dolphins pick at Browns: Browns by 3.

Seahawks minus-3 at Panthers: Panthers by 7.
Raiders plus-9 1/2 at Colts: Colts by 14.
Cardinals plus-4 1/2 at Rams: Rams by 7.
Packers plus-4 1/2 at 49ers: 49ers by 7.
Giants plus-3 1/2 at Cowboys: Giants by 7.
Eagles plus-3 1/2 at Redskins: Redskins by 7.
Texans minus-4 at Chargers: Chargers by 7.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53

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